John Fredriksen’s sale and leaseback shipping company has confirmed a “milestone investment” in new LNG dual-fuel container ships costing $1bn.

The order for five 16,800-teu neo-panamax units was first reported by TradeWinds on Monday.

The New York-listed owner said on Wednesday that delivery will be in 2028, without mentioning the shipyard.

Sources told TradeWinds the builder is China’s New Times Shipbuilding.

SFL said it has agreed minimum 10-year time charters to a leading liner company. This will add $1.2bn to the charter backlog.

The shipowner did not reveal the charterer; however, analysts at Arctic Securities suggest AP Moller-Maersk as the other party involved in the deal.

There will be an option to extend the charters for another two years, and purchase options at the end of years 10 and 12, including a profit-share feature.

Chief executive Ole Hjertaker said: “This marks another accretive milestone investment for SFL and will add five large container vessels to our fleet.”

“With these vessels delivered, we will have 11 LNG dual-fuel vessels, and it demonstrates our commitment to continue expanding our investment focus to assets with a lower carbon footprint,” he added.

Arctic analysts said the deal was positive for SFL but noted an increase in sector concentration from the 47% of revenue coming from containers prior to the transaction.

“This risk is in our view offset against solid economics and the significant earnings visibility gained against an investment grade counterparty,” they said.

It is not known if the New Times contract includes any options.

SFL has now added $1.75bn to its fixed-rate charter backlog so far this year. It has agreed deals for three LR2 tankers and two LNG dual-fuel 33,000-dwt chemical tankers this year.

The three 115,000-dwt product carriers from Fredriksen’s private company Seatankers were acquired for $230m deal. The LR2s are being built at New Times and are slated to be delivered this year.

The vessels will be chartered out long-term to a “world-leading energy and commodities company”, SFL said.

As for the chemical tankers, SFL spent $114m to buy the 33,300-dwt Gold Trader II (built 2022) and Gold Trader III (built 2023) from Japan’s Nisshin Shipping.

SFL has chartered out the two chemical tankers to Stolt Tankers for at least eight years.

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