Florida-based Noble Capital Markets is sticking to its guns in shipping research coverage and investment-banking services despite the defections of two key staffers.

A top Noble executive confirmed to TradeWinds in a recent interview that the Boca Raton-based boutique bank continues to see shipping as a key coverage area five years after its 2017 entry.

“Yes, we are continuing coverage,” said Michael Kupinski, Noble’s director of research.

Kupinski spoke after Noble’s shipping team — analyst Poe Fratt and investment banker Mark Suarez — bolted the firm for New York’s Alliance Global Partners on the eve of Noble’s annual NobleCon investment conference in Florida.

“We’re disappointed that Poe left but that was his personal choice,” Kupinski said.

The research director noted that analyst Michael Heim, who had been covering energy exploration and production for Noble, has expanded his coverage into Fratt’s shipping names.

Kupinski said that prior to coming to Noble, he, Fratt and Heim had all formerly worked together on the staff of AG Edwards, the broker-dealer acquired in 2007 by Wachovia Securities and then the following year by Wells Fargo.

“Mike is a very seasoned analyst and has been doing energy, which is kind of an adjacent industry. Shipping and logistics is tied to what Mike does, so we don’t think it’s that much of a stretch for him to cover the shipping sector,” Kupinski said.

Heim, who was introducing himself to shipping presenters at NobleCon, has wasted no time getting into the new beat. He has already published client notes on dry bulk owners Eagle Bulk Shipping, Genco Shipping & Trading and Pangaea Logistics — all owners formerly under Fratt’s coverage.

In addition, Fratt had covered Greek names Seanergy Maritime and EuroDry in dry bulk, Euroseas in container ships and Pyxis Maritime in product tankers.

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Kupinski said he expected that most if not all of the legacy names would remain under coverage, with Heim likely carrying out non-deal investor events with management teams in the near future.

There is also news on the banking side, where Rani Selwanes has been hired as the new head of investment banking.

Selwanes was formerly with NBK Capital, where his work included activity in oil and gas, infrastructure and petrochemicals.

“We’re not dropping the ball on the investment-banking side — he’s going to be responsible for shipping. He’s had banking relationships in transportation and logistics,” Kupinski said.