A pair of kamsarmax vessels previously with the Bulk Trading Group (BTG) have been sold, apparently to Greek shipowner George Economou.

Several shipbrokers in London, Greece and the US report the 81,000-dwt sisterships BTG Kailash and BTG Olympos (both built 2015) as sold to Economou company TMS Dry in a $71m deal.

The two ships were known to be trading with BTG – a 50:50 joint venture between Norway's Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Skipsrederi (KGJS) and JP Morgan’s Global Maritime Investment Fund.

One market source told TradeWinds that KGJS no longer had any ownership of the two vessels, which means that JP Morgan is the party selling.

Managers at KGJS declined to comment on commercial matters. Those at the Economou group did not respond to a request for comment.

Another manager at BTG confirmed that the venture “no longer has any involvement in the ownership or commercial operations of these two vessels”.

Has Greece’s George Economou made another expansionary move into bulkers? Photo: Marine Money

A sale to Greek interests would not be a first for BTG.

In October 2020, the joint venture sold the 81,000-dwt BTG Everest and BTG Eiger (both built 2015) to Neda Maritime for between $22m and $23m each.

The stark price differential compared to the deal reported now for sisterships BTG Olympos and BTG Kailash is characteristic of how much the dry bulk market has improved since.

Economou has been a persistent bulker buyer throughout that period. Since June 2021, the major Greek owner acquired one newcastlemax, two capesizes, one kamsarmax and two panamaxes on the secondhand market for a total estimated outlay of nearly $190m.

The Greek owner is, furthermore, believed to have ordered a quartet of ultramax newbuildings at Nantong Xiangyu Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering at about $32.5m each.

In another potential kamsarmax deal reported recently, Turkey’s Beks Shipmanagement was said to have declared interest in Seatankers’ 82,300-dwt Sea Hermes (built 2013).

At the same time, brokers reported that Japan’s Fuyo Kaiun has fetched a bumper $40.8m in a resale deal for the 82,300-dwt newbuilding Rich Rainforest (built 2022).

Market sources contacted by TradeWinds, however, expressed doubts as to whether any of these two deals actually materialised.

Peak ownership

KGJS is primarily a tanker owner. The company has sold several such ships in recent years as poor tanker markets weighed on its results and led it to debt restructuring talks with creditors.

BTG owned eight kamsarmaxes built between 2015 and 2021 at Japan Marine United. All its vessels are named after famous peaks in various parts of the world.

Its two youngest vessels, the 82,500-dwt BTG Ulriken (built 2020) and the 82,400-dwt BTG Apo (built 2021), are listed under the ownership of S&I Leasing, a 50:50 joint venture set up in December 2019 between Itochu Corp and Seven Yield Holding.

According to the S&I website, the BTG Ulriken and BTG Apo are on seven-year bareboat charters back to KGJS running through to the end of 2027.

They are the only bulkers financed so far by S&I, which also has similar financing deals in place for a pair of pure car/truck carriers.