Just when it seemed like the dynamic world of shipping equity analysts had slowed down a little bit for the summer...

Streetwise understands that investment bank Jefferies is about to take the unusual step of temporarily suspending its maritime coverage, as it has in effect run out of shipping analysts.

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The US financier is in this spot because Deutsche Bank has swooped on the man currently heading Jefferies’ shipping research, Christopher Robertson, in an aggressive move to build up its own maritime and transport team.

Robertson is the long-time senior associate to former Jefferies lead shipping analyst Randy Giveans, who surprised the industry on 4 April by quitting after 11 years to head investor relations and business development at New York-listed LPG carrier player Navigator Holdings.

The Deutsche Bank raid was set up when Jefferies elected to find Giveans’ successor outside of its own ranks, tapping star analyst Omar Nokta of Clarksons Platou Securities to fill the post.

Nokta’s hiring might be called high-profile except that it has never officially been announced by Jefferies.

Still, Streetwise expects the veteran researcher to report for duty in July after completing his gardening leave from Clarksons Platou.

(Clarksons Platou did acknowledge Nokta’s departure after some pestering from TradeWinds and ultimately chose to fill his seat from within its own ranks, tapping well-regarded research director Turner Holm.)

For Jefferies, the plan was to have Robertson hold down the fort until Nokta’s arrival next month.

And by all accounts, he was doing a nice job of that, publishing regular research notes and the bank’s weekly shipping update and questioning company management teams on quarterly earnings calls.

Deutsche Bank analyst Amit Mehrotra has whittled the list of shipowners under his coverage to single digits. Could it tick back up with the hiring of Christopher Robertson? Photo: Capital Link

His work left many impressed, and that included Deutsche Bank shipping and transportation researcher Amit Mehrotra.

Streetwise understands Mehrotra saw an opportunity to boost his own team — already in need of rebuilding after the departures of key associates — and made a quiet approach to Robertson.

Deutsche Bank sees an opening to bolster not only shipping but broader transport coverage. Robertson is being brought in as a vice president with direct report to Mehrotra, a managing director. He will probably take up coverage of some shipping names, but do more work in other transport.

Mehrotra formerly covered just shipping, but in 2016 expanded his coverage into the trucking and rail sectors, with current responsibility for about 25 companies across those segments.

Robertson already has handed in his papers at Jefferies, which coincidentally also saw Robertson’s associate — Chadd Tribo — move to a corporate position unrelated to shipping.

That means no one is left from Giveans’ staff of three. Expectations are that Jefferies will announce a suspension of shipping coverage until Nokta comes off the beach next month.

Unpacking the sequence

None of the players in this scenario would speak to Streetwise for this report.

In any event, it is useful to unpack what this sequence is, and what it is not.

For Deutsche Bank, it is a bold move on a rival that enhances its own transport team.

With his drift into other sectors, Mehrotra had cut his shipping coverage to a handful of big names across categories: Star Bulk Carriers in dry bulk, Euronav and Frontline in crude tankers, Scorpio Tankers in the clean product sector, Global Ship Lease in container ships and Golar LNG in gas shipping.

Now there is a chance the list might grow again.

For Jefferies, there is no hesitation on shipping. No banks have been more committed to the sector than the likes of Jefferies and Clarksons Platou.

While a headline around a suspension of coverage might be a temporary distraction, the talented and experienced Nokta will have the house in order this summer.

He just has a little more shopping to do than he might have imagined.

More Ship Finance news

  • US bank Citi has named Vassilios Maroulis as its new global head of shipping, replacing the outgoing Shreyas Chipalkatty. Read the story here.
  • Norwegian cruise ferry owner Hurtigruten Group is targeting a big investment in emissions reductions through a new green bond. Read the story here.
  • Norway’s mini-bulker specialist Wilson is returning some of its expanded earnings to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks. Read the story here.