Big Greek shipowners have made headlines for making large bets on the bulker market recently, scooping up modern secondhand tonnage in expectation of good freight markets over the next couple of years.

Other Greek players, however, have been taking advantage of the buying appetite to sell some of their older ships to willing buyers active across the bulker board, especially in China.

In the latest and most eye-catching example of the latter trend, sources in Athens say Andreas Martinos-led Minerva Marine is close to divesting the 177,700-dwt Sapientza (built 2008) to Chinese buyers for between $22m and $22.6m.

The Chinese-built ship is Minerva’s oldest capesize and has been trading with the company since its delivery as a newbuilding. It passed its special survey in August last year.

If confirmed, this would be Minerva’s first bulker sale in the secondhand market in 10 years.

The company is best known for its extensive tanker fleet but it also has a sideline in bulkers, which it cautiously expanded with four selective capesize acquisitions in 2021 and 2022.

It is not hard to see why Minerva would be tempted to sell some of its older tonnage now.

Analysts at Athens-based Xclusiv Shipbrokers note that the capesize sector “is experiencing a remarkable surge, with both prices and sales activity at high levels compared to recent years”.

According to Xclusiv, the 20 capesize sales recorded so far this year almost match the number of transactions in the whole first quarter of 2023 and secondhand capesize prices are at their highest levels in five years.

Clarksons’ figures unadjusted for inflation even show prices for 15-year-old capesizes at the highest level since the summer of 2010.

The most intense interest for such ships comes from Chinese buyers who remained active even throughout the Chinese New Year holiday, according to Eva Tzima, head of research at Athens’ Seaborne Shipbrokers.

Eager buyers are offering between 5% and 10% above what more reserved investors are prepared to pay for equivalent units, Tzima wrote.

Probably underpinned by a more optimistic outlook on China’s economic prospects, Chinese buying interest has extended to smaller bulker types as well.

Unidentified Chinese interests have been linked to the purchase of three kamsarmaxes, one panamax and one supramax this month, from Greek, Japanese and Turkish owners.

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