When Greek asset players switch their focus of attention, it is always a sure sign as to where the action is moving.

Westport Tankers, a Piraeus-based outfit led by George Stamoulas and Michael Tsangaris, made a killing in the tanker market after buying five oil carriers and flipping them for a profit between early 2021 and late 2022.

When they were done, they turned to bulkers. In the middle of 2023, a new outfit called Westport Bulkers was set up that made its first capesize purchase in the second half of the year for about $22m.

Barely a year later, the ship they bought was worth more than $30m.

Others moved even before Westport.

Harry Vafias and his family were among the first Hellenic players to invest in bulkers in the current cycle, spending about $280m since early 2022 on 14 such ships, including six capesizes.

Greek container ship owners looking at what to do with the cash deluge coming their way during the coronavirus crisis decided to invest a big chunk of it into bulkers.

Costamare, the first to launch that trend in 2021, when it started buying smaller bulkers en masse, has kept its foot on the gas pedal, expanding into capesizes in 2023 and continuing to do so this year.

John Coustas-led Danaos did the same, expanding into bulkers in July 2023 and piling up 10 capesizes for a total amount of nearly $230m.

Deals like that propelled Greek secondhand bulker buying to 182 ships in deals worth $3.66bn last year, up from 132 transactions worth $2.97bn in 2022 — according to TradeWinds figures based on company statements and shipping databases.

The buying gathered an even quicker pace at the beginning of 2024, spurred by a craze for capesize demand that boosted freight rates to unseasonably high levels.

The time between January and March is usually the slowest time of the year for the big bulkers. Things, however, were dramatically different in 2024.

Average capesize earnings surged to $26,767 per day, according to Clarksons, their highest reading for a first quarter since 2010.

Owners rushed to benefit from the spike, adding secondhand tonnage that is delivered more or less promptly.

Greek and Chinese players threw open their wallets, pushing capesize dealmaking between January and March to a 17-year high.

Perhaps the most emblematic deal of the period was Thenamaris’ $270m splurge on four modern newcastlemaxes from South Korea’s Polaris Shipping.

As buying percolated to smaller sizes as well, Hellenic players acquired 78 bulkers overall between January and April in deals worth $1.9bn, according to a list of confirmed or reported transactions compiled by TradeWinds.

In the same period last year, the corresponding figures were much more modest, with 49 bulkers bought worth about $1.1bn.

Fourteen of the 78 secondhand bulkers Greeks acquired in the first four months of 2024 were capesizes, which accounted for one-third of their spending and about 40% of the acquired tonnage.

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