Oslo-listed Hoegh Autoliners has reported a stable performance for May, while admitting its fleet capacity is holding back expansion.

The car carrier owner’s chief executive, Andreas Enger, said he was pleased with a “solid” month.

But he added: “Capacity is still the limiting factor, and we continue to serve and prioritise long-term strategic customers.”

Enger said the share of cargo transported under contract has increased to above 75%.

“Volumes increased somewhat from April and rates are stable at record high levels. High and heavy and breakbulk cargo accounted for 25% of shipments in May,” Enger said.

The company transported 1.2m cbm of cargo last month on a pro-rated basis.

Volumes in the past three months were 3.6m cbm.

The average gross freight rate in May was $97.2 per cbm, down 1.2% from the figure achieved in the first quarter of this year.

The average net rate was $83 per cbm, 0.6% lower than in the first three months.

The high and heavy/break bulk share of volumes carried in May was 25%, against 23% over the March to May period.

Grimaldi takes big stake

In April, Italian tycoon Emanuele Grimaldi grabbed the second-largest stake in Hoegh Autoliners, fuelling speculation a second Italian could be launching a raid on the Norwegian car carrier sector.

The move followed billionaire Gianluigi Aponte’s NOK 7.6bn ($700m) bid to take over Gram Car Carriers, taking the company off the Oslo Stock Exchange and into the MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company fold.

Grimaldi, the managing director of family-owned Grimaldi Group, purchased 9.78m shares, or 5.12% of Hoegh.

This positions it second only to the Hoegh family holding company, Leif Hoegh & Co, which holds 79.3m shares.