Lomar Shipping has used Neptune Maritime Leasing, a unit of US-listed Costamare, to co-fund its recent pivot towards bulkers.

Nicholas Georgiou-led Lomar confirmed in a LinkedIn post that it raised capital through Neptune Maritime for five bulkers purchased recently.

It did not disclose the vessels.

However, ship registration data on the S&P Global data platform reveal them as four supramaxes and a kamsarmax known to have joined Lomar over the past year.

The most recent deal concerns the 57,000-dwt Manila Trader (ex-Rhine Confidante, built 2010) — a vessel reported sold in September by Chinese interests to undisclosed Greeks for between $10.8m and $10.9m.

The Manila Trader will soon undergo energy-saving upgrades at a Chinese yard.

TradeWinds has reported the other four acquisitions, which emerge now as having had Neptune Maritime’s backing.

Those include the 56,800-dwt Chris (renamed Rome Trader, built 2010), sold by Greece’s Seadar for $12.5m; and the 79,500-dwt Joy (renamed Athens Trader, built 2011), sold by Novamaris in a $14m transaction.

Lomar also used Neptune Maritime for an earlier acquisition of a bulker pair in the spring: Bernhard Schulte’s 56,700-dwt Universal Bangkok (renamed Lima Trader, built 2012) for between $15m and $15.5m; and the Livanos Group’s 57,000-dwt Ariadne (renamed Oslo Trader, built 2010) for around $13m.

The Manila Trader is one of several bulkers that Lomar Shipping acquired with financing from Neptune Maritime Leasing. Photo: Lomar Shipping

Neptune Maritime is not the only Costamare unit that Lomar has been in business with.

Earlier this year, two Lomar panamaxes — the 79,500-dwt Cape Kourion (built 2010) and Cape Greco (built 2011) — joined Costamare Bulkers Services, which is a Costamare-run trading platform that charters bulkers in and out.

Neptune Maritime has not been Lomar’s sole source of finance.

The acquisition of three kamsarmaxes it bought earlier this year was backed by a $24m credit facility obtained from long-standing financial partner Hamburg Commercial Bank (HCOB).

Lomar has not identified these three vessels but they are probably the sistership trio that it acquired from China Development Bank in an en-bloc deal worth just shy of $50m: the 79,500-dwt Sweet Irina, Sweet Melissa (both built 2011) and Sweet Venus (built 2012), which are now trading as Dart Trader, Thames Trader and Avon Trader, respectively.

Lomar has said in LinkedIn posts that it will keep working with Neptune Maritime and HCOB as it shifts its focus “away from the container sector and towards bulk carriers and chemical tankers”.

Before acquiring nine bulkers on the secondhand market this year, Lomar completed a $160m acquisition of Carl Buttner — a German owner of six chemical product tankers — in October 2022.

Lomar has made these expansion moves in parallel with a hugely profitable sales campaign. It has offloaded about 50 container ships over the past three years in deals worth more than $1bn.

Some of the same bankers are involved both in Lomar sales and purchases. HCOB, for instance, contributed a $50m credit to the $136.4m that MPC Container Ships spent this year on five Lomar boxships.

Lomar’s deals have been one of the biggest growth drivers for Neptune Maritime Leasing — a player under Costamare’s control since March.

As of 1 November, Costamare had invested about $74m in Neptune Maritime out of a total maximum of $200m committed.

Costamare chief financial officer Gregory Zikos said on that date that Neptune was “steadily growing on a prudent basis” with leasing transactions for 17 vessels and “a healthy pipeline” to follow over the coming quarters.

These transactions cover a wide range of vessels.

S&P Global data shows Neptune Maritime involved in the financing of four MR tankers owned by Greece’s Super-Eco Tankers, as well as in a platform supply vessel on charter to Chevron by Singapore’s Nortrans Offshore.

Neptune Maritime was set up in 2021 by ship financier Harris Antoniou with the backing of the Latsis family.

Costamare, which has been traditionally a container ship owner, acquired control of the company this year as part of efforts to diversify and invest some of the cash its boxships earned during the coronavirus boom.

According to Costamare’s latest financial results, Neptune Maritime contributed $2.1m to the company’s nine-month profit of $276m.

By contrast, Costamare Bulkers Services has been weighing on Costamare’s results: it is in the red over the same period to the tune of $81.2m.

Costamare chief financial officer Gregory Zikos. Photo: Costamare