Giant order | Cosco Shipping is working on a showstopping newbuilding project for a colossal 120 vessels. The Chinese giant will write cheques for over $4.5bn if its negotiations with shipbuilders come through. Its move would be one of the largest shipbuilding projects in history for a single company, with bulk carriers of different sizes accounting for the majority of the outlay.

Takeover time | Also splashing the cash is private US owner Saltchuk. After a previous failure, it struck gold in sealing a $950m takeover of Jones Act tanker player Overseas Shipholding Group. The deal continues a trend of shipowners moving away from the capital markets and into private hands.

Shipping score | Manchester City’s star striker Erling Haaland is no stranger to big money deals having carried a £50m plus price tag for the past two seasons. Now the Norwegian has made a genuine shipping investment, injecting some of his vast wealth into Henning Oldendorff’s Maritime & Merchant Bank (M&M Bank).

Topping up on tankers | Fellow football man Evangelos Marinakis has added to his VLCC newbuilding drive with two more vessels. His deal with China’s Dalian Shipbuilding Industry continues a rotation of VL newbuildings away from South Korea and towards Chinese shipyards.

Dark days | Outside of the newbuilding space, there is talk of a new “dark fleet” emerging, this time in the LNG sector. While brokers may have been whispering the phrase as multiple veteran units changed hands, Flex LNG boss Oystein Kalleklev did not hold back. “This could potentially be the start of an LNG dark fleet,” he said. “We do think that the Russians are planning to do something similar to what we have seen on the oil and petroleum side.”

Secret deals | Further warning flares were set off around actions by some flag states and secret deals to prevent ships being detained by port inspectors. The head of Europe’s port state control system declined to identify the flag states behind the reported approaches, but said they were not just small registries with limited tonnage already known as poor performers.

George Economou greets guests after being honored as Hellenic-American chamber’s Man of the Year. Photo: Joe Brady

By George | Greek shipowner George Economou has spent years in the shipping limelight. Of late he has made headlines for his investment in fellow public shipowners, often adopting the persona of activist shareholder. Economou told Joe Brady what has been driving his actions. “I’m doing it to make money — there’s nothing personal in it at all,” he said with characteristic bluntness. “I wanted to make money,” he repeated. “I was thinking that a lot of these companies were undervalued. So I thought let me pick the ones that are undervalued and with upside potential.”

Generation game | Gary Dixon sat down with Braemar chief executive James Gundy after the shipbroker’s latest financial results. Gundy is putting his faith in the next generation of brokers as the London shop keeps expanding. “We’ve just grown the business. But also it’s important to get that next generation ready and coming through,” Gundy told TradeWinds.