Eurofin, the specialist ship finance adviser, has launched its specialist ship investment fund vehicle, Merlin Tankers Inc. The new company has purchased two 38,000 dwt tankers which will be dedicated to the vegetable oil trades. The purchase of a third vessel is about to be completed.
Janos Koenig, managing director of Eurofin, says, “We are delighted with the uptake of Merlin Tankers and confident that our specialist focus will give us a competitive advantage. There is a reservoir of capital from non-shipping investors which is seeking an entry into shipping but which would be uncomfortable with a play focussed on the volatile mainstream tanker or dry bulk markets. Merlin Tankers is focussed on new opportunities in edible oil transport
. That gives investors a focussed niche market play, and we expect to grow substantially over the next year as demand for specialised edible oils tankers increases when new regulations come into force.”
Merlin Tankers Inc is an investment company managed by the Eurofin Group which will buy and operate ships focussed on veg oil carriage. Commercial management of the ships will be carried out by Bergen-based Champion Tankers, which is a leader in the edible oil trades. Technical management will be provided by Piraeus-based Genoa Maritime, which has extensive experience with these trades and with sister ships to those purchased by Merlin Tankers.
The two ships purchased so far are the 38,000 dwt Merlin Trader and Merlin Champion, both of which are now en route to China where they will be converted to full double/double configuration, bringing them up to IMO Cat II. According to Koenig, “New IMO regulations on the carriage of edible oils mean that from January 1, 2007 these oils will have to be carried in IMO Cat II or III ships. That will create a shortage of tonnage in these trades, and with these cost-effective vessels ready to trade from this autumn we are well prepared to take advantage of that.”