How would big-name Greek shipowners spend $100m? — Inflation means it won’t buy you as many ships as it used to. That was the consensus.

Shipowner George Economou revealed that he sees upside in the dry-cargo market over the next few years and said that bulk carriers would be among his picks.

“What do you do today with $100m, I think you have to understand that if you are a new company, you will not get much financing,” he told the Capital Link conference at Posidonia on Monday.

“If I started with $100m, I would probably do two things. I think the first thing to look at is the next three years: always cash flow. You want to protect your downside — and I’m pretty convinced the dry bulk market is going to be good for the next three years at least. So I would start with bulk carriers.”

Economou said that he was told while at university that the best investment is a seven-year-old Japanese bulk carrier.

“It’s still a good investment. We didn’t go all-in on that and would buy bigger and older capes, which we have done,” he said.

As it happens, Economou’s company TMS Dry was linked in May to a $71m deal to purchase two seven-year-old kamsarmax vessels, both of which were built in Japan, as TradeWinds has reported.

Shortly after, TMS Dry was also linked to the purchase of the 182,100-dwt, Danish-built capesize Aquadiva (built 2010) between $31m and $32.6m from Carras (Hellas).

TMS Dry’s existing fleet comprises a newcastlemax bulker, a kamsarmax and a panamax of between six and nine years of age, according to shipping databases.

Aside from bulk carriers, Economou said he had an eye on the tanker sector, which is more difficult to predict, as demonstrated by the fact the VLCC market has not rebounded as had been hoped.

“In business, you have to look forward,” he said. “LNG is probably good or a container [ship] probably if you have long-term employment. The question is a chicken and egg situation: you cannot buy a ship with employment so you have to take a risk. So the question is about appetite for risk.”

Buying bulk carriers and then ordering a couple of LNG carriers might be a good way to go with $100m, but will cost “a lot of money” and comes with the problem of arranging technical management for the gas ships, Economou said.

Alternatively, spend the $100m on bulkers, take scrap financing at 6%, take the cash to the bank “and then you pick your next move,” he said.

Procopiou’s picks

Shipowner George Procopiou said that he favours a pragmatic approach to asset trading and would not be seduced by what he called “fantasy stories” surrounding battery technology and alternative marine fuels like hydrogen.

“If I’m very eager to do something, I would definitely concentrate on second-hand ships. And I will wait for technology to settle down and then to be tested, not to be the guinea pig to go to the next day,” he said.