A Capesize bulk shipping alliance involving three of the sector's biggest fleets may be launched within a month, according to one key player, Greece's Angelicoussis Group
. "The momentum right now is to get it finished as soon as possible," Angelicoussis CFO Dimitri Stylianou said
. "It could be done within a month."
Stylianou said the two other key players would be Israel's Zodiac Maritime
, which is part of Israel's Ofer Brothers Group, and Bocimar of the Belgian CMB Group. "It'll be a three-way pool, but there will be some smaller players involved too," he added.
Stylianou said the move was not a reaction to fears of a downturn of the Capesize market, which faces an influx of excess ship supply in coming months."
"It's not so much a reaction as we feel the trade and nature of the Capesize market needs something more organised." Brokers said an alliance between the three would tie up Bocimar's 40-50 Capesizes with Zodiac's 30 and the Angelicoussis Group's six. The pool would enjoy a dominant position in the world spot fleet of 200-250 vessels.
Stylianou said no major stumbling blocks remained. "We haven't seen the small-print yet," he said. "Nothing is smooth in life, but it's going well. We're making progress."
A source close to Zodiac's London office last week confirmed that talks had been continuing since January, although the company declined to comment. Bocimar is renowned in the shipping market for the bulk sector's most daring coup in August 1999. In the space of three days it fixed 28 of the spot market's best vessels into one-year contracts, a move that forced the market up from $11-12,000 per day to significantly higher levels. Bocimar sister companies Exmar and Euronav are also known in their tanker sectors for daring innovation and for championing consolidation.
Last week Greek Capesize operator Ceres Hellenic said it had agreed to merge its fleet with that of Italy's Coeclerici, creating a fleet that would rank among the world's top six. Capesize ships (80,000 dwt) and over) are designed for the transport of coal and iron ore. They are too large to use the Panama Canal and instead must pass around Cape Horn. - (Reuters)