London’s Freight Investor Services has clinched a deal to buy a Greek shipbroker founded last year by former Arrow Shipbroking and Lightship Chartering staffers.

The John Banaszkiewicz-led freight and commodity futures broker said it has taken over bulker specialist GR8 Chartering Hellas in Athens.

“The acquisition will bring GR8 Chartering’s expertise in physical shipping into the FIS group and increase its presence in Greece, one of the shipping market’s key geographies,” FIS added.

GR8 was founded in June 2023 as a broker for bulkers of all sizes and also provides market intelligence and insights.

Eight equal partners owned GR8 previously.

FIS founder Banaszkiewicz said: “It is an exciting time, in the middle of Posidonia, to be announcing our investment in a Greek shipping business. Greece’s long maritime history makes this deal very special and long may this continue in the future(s).”

He called GR8 “a dynamic and successful shipbroker”.

“We hope that this joining together of physical and futures expertise will be a fruitful partnership, with a particular focus on helping drive more volume in the supramax and handysize futures from physical players,” the CEO said.

GR8 will be renamed FIS Hellas. Brokers will work closely with FIS’ dry cargo desks in Singapore, Shanghai and India.

Theo Vasilakis, GR8 founding partner, said: “We are thrilled about the expertise that John Banaszkiewicz and FIS can bring to our physical business.”

‘Fantastic opportunity’

“Our team’s hard work and commitment to delivering exceptional chartering services have been the cornerstone of our success. Joining Freight Investor Services is a fantastic opportunity to leverage their extensive 20-year industry expertise and resources, propelling our growth and service offerings to new heights,” he added.

The GR8 desk comprises five brokers who worked previously at Lightship’s offices in Athens and Geneva, as well as three brokers who left Arrow for the new start-up.

Brokers Lambros Vergos, Arkadios Svolakis, Komninos Svolakis, and Theodoris Vavatsioulas left Lightship in Athens to join the new venture. Harys Angelakos came across from Lightship in Geneva.

They were joined by Konstantinos Apostolopoulos, Thodoris Danikas and Theodosios Vasilakis, who left Arrow in the Greek capital.

In December, FIS celebrated 21 years in business in Shanghai.

The company, the world’s biggest broker of forward freight agreements, set up its office in China in 2008 at the height of the financial crash.

In its own words, FIS describes opening the Shanghai office as a “bold step”, given that the freight market at that time was in the midst of a downward spiral, in which it would lose over 95% of its value and crash down by highs of more than $200,000 per day.

This came as FIS launched its innovative matching system to help prevent freight market defaults.