Norwegian shipbroking group Fearnleys has closed the deal to acquire London-based Ocean Shipbrokers, which will expand its activities in tankers, sale and purchase and LPG.

The ink on the contract is barely dry — TradeWinds understands the deal was signed by parties on Wednesday.

Fearnleys believes the transaction will double the size of its tanker team, client reach and market coverage.

Marius Hermansen, CEO of the Astrup Fearnley group, said the deal puts his firm in the right position for a comeback in tanker markets.

“This has been a long time coming, and the timing could not be better into the early stages of an expected multi-year tanker market up-cycle,” he said.

“This combination will build a greatly improved offering to clients, and a platform to attract further talent.”

The global tanker desk will continue to be headed by Kris Lossius Ellefsen.

Dan Gundy, director of Ocean Shipbrokers, said: “Since opening in 2006, Ocean Shipbrokers has proved to be a dominant broker in various markets and maintaining good relationships within the owner, oil and trading communities.

“This joining of companies will bring a new and dynamic approach to the clients which we both service and the ability to build further within the Fearnleys group.”

The agreement is effective from Thursday and practical integration of the two businesses will begin immediately, Fearnleys said. Contact details for Ocean staff remain unchanged.

The deal has been in the works for some time. TradeWinds reported in August that a buyout of Ocean by Fearnleys had been agreed in principle.

The combination will boost Astrup Fearnley Group’s headcount to 380 staff worldwide in broking and financial services across 15 offices.

In an internal email to staff, seen by TradeWinds, Hermansen said the acquisition “represents the execution of our growth plan, and the intention to keep building Astrup Fearnley as a solid and remarkable player within our business areas, and a major shift for the group in terms of more opportunistic growth”.

“Fearnleys and Ocean tank desks complement each other almost to perfection with regards to clients and areas of strength, with very limited crossover,” he wrote.

“We believe our combination can create new opportunities for both our clients and ourselves, and at the same time increase the bandwidth for internal cross-desk business opportunities.”

Ocean, which was formed in 2006, made a name for itself in tanker broking and was at one time seen as particularly close to trading house giant Glencore.

It expanded its operations into S&P and gas, boasting more than 30 staff with offices in London, Geneva, Dubai and China.

Sources told TradeWinds in August that Astrup Fearnley is keen to invest “quite heavily” in its shipbroking activities and has its eyes on other purchases in the US.

In July, Fearnleys scooped up dry-cargo brokers from rival Braemar Shipbroking to establish a new presence in Brazil.