Greek shipowner turned activist investor George Economou has sold off more than half of his shareholding in Genco Shipping & Trading for a profit of at least $7m ahead of next week’s key proxy vote on board membership.

The latest sales from what was once a 5.4% ownership stake began in early April and were highlighted by Genco in a public statement before the start of trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

Economou sold more than 697,400 shares after the 28 March record date for the 23 May annual general meeting of shareholders, according to Genco’s latest release.

The magnate is still able to vote the shares under the technical rules of shareholding.

Economou then revealed on Monday that he sold a further 525,503 shares in a disclosure that was required under Genco’s bylaws but not yet tipped publicly.

The sales together represent 52% of the 2.339m Economou owned at the peak of his holding, Genco said in the filing.

By TradeWinds’ calculations, Economou acquired his initial stake at an average price of no more than $15 per share and sold for no less than $21.

By a conservative estimate, he’s already made at least $7.3m on the holding.

Genco’s statement may be a final salvo ahead of the annual shareholders meeting at which Economou is asking to elect his own nominee — businessman Robert Pons — to the board of directors while removing veteran chairman James Dolphin, an executive with AMA Capital Partners.

Genco in turn is moving to re-elect its own slate of seven directors led by Dolphin.

Other directors seeking re-election are Paramita Das, Kathleen Haines, Basil Mavroleon, Karin Orsel, Arthur Regan and chief executive John Wobensmith.

Economou has, among other things, criticised Genco’s share price to its net asset value and the purported intransigence of management and board in addressing his recommendations, with particular focus on Dolphin as chairman.

Economou has advocated that Genco consider stock buybacks, a plan that management has rejected in favour of a strategy of substantial dividend payouts.

Yet Genco’s shares have appreciated nicely since Economou revealed his initial stake. They closed Monday at $22.95 — close to their 52-week high of $23.43.

The Greek owner has over the past year taken shareholding positions in several New York-listed shipowners, most of them also Greek, and sought to undo what he has called ownership structures that reflect poor governance.

Economou — himself regarded as a career governance laggard — has filed lawsuits against Performance Shipping in the New York Supreme Court and Seanergy Maritime in the Marshall Islands.

Economou ran New York-listed bulker owner DryShips between 2005 and 2019 before taking the company private at a discount to its NAV.

DryShips finished last in watchdog Michael Webber’s corporate governance “scorecard” and faced its own litigation after shareholders charged that it destroyed more than 99.9% of its equity value through dilutive stock sales accompanied by reverse splits.

Genco said in a release on 8 May that leading shareholder advisory outfit International Shareholder Services (ISS) had found that Economou had failed to make a persuasive case for change.

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“The dissident [Economou] has since provided limited disclosure regarding his effort to unseat the company’s chairman,” ISS said, according to the Genco disclosure.

“As the dissident has failed to articulate a compelling case for change, shareholders are recommended to withhold votes for dissident nominee Robert Pons.”

The advisory firm also noted that Economou had been accelerating a selloff in the stock.

The initial shares were acquired in mid-November at $13.97 each, followed by 26 other purchases at prices of up to $16.42.

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