After a corporate governance spat with a Chinese outfit, long-time finance man Ned Sherwood said he will never invest in a company based in that country again.
But he has yet to come to the same conclusion about another sector known for its governance challenges: shipping.
While Sherwood said it is wrong to label him an "activist investor", he has fought and won proxy fights against company management teams, and is believed to be the first shareholder to successfully oust executives of a China-based, US-traded company.
That scrap happened more than a decade ago and involved ChinaCast Education Corp, an outfit that provided secondary education services in China. It began operating in the US in 2006 and later listed on the Nasdaq.
Sherwood was placed on the ChinaCast board by a large private equity investor.
"None of us realised we were involved with people who sold 100% of the equity to US investors and 200% of the equity to other investors," Sherwood said. "It was like Zero Mostel in The Producers. We had a dishonest management team."
When Sherwood "smelled a rat", he was able to force out the management team, but the saga remains fraught with litigation and essentially ended in tears.
"The end result was we did not make money on this deal," he said.
Sherwood estimated he has been involved with 100 companies in some form or another over his career, but Navios Maritime Partners is the first shipping investment. He has been studying up and consulting with some veteran players in ownership and finance.
"Ned wandered into this situation without knowing the industry or principals well," one ship-finance veteran said. "He did not set out to effect change but, as he monitored his investment, he saw some of the troubling aspects of investing in the industry and the conflicted nature of how some of the companies are run."
Asked about his impression of governance standards, Sherwood said: "On my experience so far, I'd say it's horrible. I don't think there is governance. I think Angeliki believes she can do whatever the hell she pleases."
The annual Webber Research ESG Scorecard ranked Navios Maritime Partners in the bottom 10 of 52 public shipowners on environmental, social and governance issues in June.
Still, Sherwood said he has not ruled out pursuing other shipping ventures with strong governance standards.