John Dragnis has a deeper mix of business and pleasure than most during Posidonia week.

While the Goldenport Group chief executive is enjoying strong markets alongside his maritime peers, as the owner of a substantial yacht leasing business, the biennial exhibition provides an extra opportunity.

Dragnis sat down with TradeWinds at the Astir Palace Hotel after a speaking engagement with Capital Link to reflect on progress for Goldenport and other ventures, including a developing floating storage and regasification unit project in his home country.

Dragnis, who was for a period chief executive of a London-listed shipping company, also reflected on his experience in the capital markets.

On the dry bulk side, shipowning vehicle Goldenport Shipmanagement has just completed a five-vessel, ultramax newbuilding programme with Nantong Xiangyu Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering.

The Dragnis family was the first Greek shipowner to order at the Chinese shipyard.

“We created a series of vessels, which are quite upgraded, very efficient,” Dragnis said. “And also very commercially viable. I’m very happy with that order.”

While Goldenport has no further dry bulk newbuildings on its orderbook, Dragnis has continued to invest in the sector this year.

In March, the family returned to the capesize market with the purchase of the 175,200-dwt Mineral Gent (built 2011). The deal came during a period of record capesize sale-and-purchase activity.

Dragnis said he had also been taking small positions as a passive investor in various locations to take on capesize exposure.

John Dragnis, chief executive of Goldenport, spoke to TradeWinds during Posidonia. Photo: Andy Pierce

“We saw the play there, obviously,” he said. “Prices have increased substantially, not only in capes but across the board, but especially in capes.”

“Currently we’re waiting to assess the market again. The market obviously, the fundamentals look decent.

“But it is and will be a volatile market. So I’m not sure it’s going to be all blue skies. I think it’s going to continue to be a volatile market.”

On the tanker side, Dragnis company Oceangold has 12 vessels, including a VLGC on the water. It also has three LR2s and four MR2s under construction.

Dragnis said the plan was to build a small fleet in the LPG space. However, this was paused after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

One gas investment still on the radar, in a separate business from existing ventures, is the potential to develop an FSRU in Volos, Greece’s third-largest city and where Dragnis’ father, John, was born.

“That is a position that’s moving a little bit slowly, I would say. Because it’s basically creating import entries for LNG in Greece,” he said.

While present Greek LNG capacity is sufficient, Russian imports are expected to continue slowing and the so-called northern corridor will see further export growth. This means there will be more demand for Hellenic LNG projects, Dragnis explained.

“This is a medium to long-term play. These projects are longer term. And currently, it’s something that I'm working on the side,” Dragnis said.

“But the day-to-day job is still on shipping. That’s my main focus.”

That shipping business will, for the foreseeable future, remain in private ownership.

Asked if the family would consider a return to the capital markets, over a decade after Goldenport was taken off the London Stock Exchange, Dragnis said: “Definitely private ownership is a way to go for us.

“I like to continue to be intimately involved with each vessel, each investment. And as the company grows, it’s more and more demanding time-wise.

“So, I’d like to continue doing that. And of course, size is very important. The capital markets can supercharge your growth and also spread the risk by having qualified people join you. But in our case, our private model fits much better to us.”

This article has been updated to correct the scale and makeup of the Oceangold fleet and orderbook.

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