US-listed Castor Maritime revealed its first investment in container ships, following plans last month to spin off its tanker fleet.

The $50m acquisition of a pair of sub-panamaxes comes as the owner of 20 bulkers and eight oil carriers more than doubled its profit in the third quarter, mainly on the back of robust tanker markets.

Chief executive Petros Panagiotidis said in an earnings release on 23 November that his team is “excited about the agreed acquisitions by Castor of two container vessels with charters attached at attractive levels”.

Castor did not identify the ships, other than to say they are a pair of 17-year-old German-built, 2,700-teu units, currently owned by members of the Panagiotidis family.

Pavimar, the Athens-based outfit controlled by Petros’ sister Ismini that manages Castor’s ships, is currently listed with two such boxships — the Ariana A and Gabriela A (both built 2005).

Pavimar acquired these vessels in spring last year from Indonesian operator Temas Line for about $14.2m each, brokers said at the time.

According to the Clarksons data platform, the Ariana A and Gabriela A have been on 24-month time charters with Wan Hai since, earning $23,250 and $26,350 per day, respectively.

The two ships are expected to join the Castor fleet by the end of the year.

Castor, which built its fleet from scratch through $400m-worth of secondhand acquisitions between its launch in 2019 and December 2021, continues exploring further growth.

Soaring prfit

“We will continue to monitor the trends in vessel valuations and seek attractive acquisition opportunities to further pursue Castor’s growth trajectory,” Panagiotidis said.

Such appetite comes on the back of soaring profit, which more than doubled to $37.1m in the third quarter, from $15.5m a year earlier.

This propelled net income to $84.9m in the first nine months of the year — up 268% from the same period of 2021.

That performance was due mainly to robust freight rates enjoyed by the company’s five aframaxes/LR2s and its pair of handysize tankers.

Castor revealed that it intends to spin off these vessels, all built between 2004 and 2006, into a separate, Nasdaq-listed entity called Toro Corp.

“We believe the spin-off is an important strategic step that will establish Toro as a ‘pure play’ tanker business at a time of increased focus on energy supplies and as the tanker shipping market enjoys strong supply-demand fundamentals,” Panagiotidis said.

Castor has already moved all its eight tankers to pools. Five of its six aframaxes are with Navig8’s V8 Plus Pool, which operates aframaxes aged 15 years or more.

Panagiotidis revealed in the earnings release that he has a minority equity interest in V8 Plus Management, the company that manages the V8 Plus Pool.

Castor’s sixth aframax, the 106,100-dwt Wonder Vega (built 2005), is with Signal Maritime’s aframax pool.

The company’s two 36,700-dwt handysize tankers, Wonder Mimosa and Wonder Formosa (both built 2006), have been with the Scorpio Group’s Handy Plus Pool since summer last year.