Star Capital has talked up its five-year investment in MPC Container Ships (MPCC) following its exit this week.

The UK investment fund — once the biggest shareholder in the German-backed feeder ship player — has now sold all its stock in two tenders this year.

Partner Laura Carballo, head of portfolio management at the London private equity player, said Star came on board during the early stages of the MPCC journey.

“We thank the management, the board and the broader MPC Group for years of professionalism and collaboration in successfully executing the company’s strategy,” she told TradeWinds.

“We have been highly supportive of the company during the last five years.

“Ultimately, as a private equity investor, we have a fixed investment period.

“MPCC has been a successful investment for Star. With its current charter backlog and strong balance sheet, we believe the company is ideally placed to continue to extract value from the container market for years to come.”

During Star’s ownership, MPCC has grown to become a leading tonnage provider in its category, Carballo said.

In June 2017, MPCC was trading at NOK 36 (now $3.39) but opened on Thursday at NOK 19.70. It has since dropped nearly 10% to NOK 17.78.

The stock has been as high as NOK 55 and as low as NOK 2 in May 2020.

Carballo said the wider Star group manages a single strategy shipping fund called Anglo International Shipping.

“At Star, we are always looking to invest across a wide range of sectors, and that includes shipping,” she added.

Strong interest in the stock

The fund’s remaining 9.98% MPCC stake was sold on Wednesday.

Fearnley Securities managed the transaction and said 44.3m shares were offloaded at NOK 17.73 each after the close on Wednesday — a total of $74m.

MPCC told TradeWinds the transaction was oversubscribed by 2.5 times from more than 100 accounts, mainly from Norway, the UK and the US.

The book was closed in just over three hours, demonstrating “great interest” in the company despite a challenging container market.

Supportive owner

MPCC chief executive Constantin Baack told TradeWinds: “Star Capital has been a long-term and supportive owner of MPCC and an important contributor to the growth and overall development of the company both as a shareholder and through its participation on the board of directors.

“Star has been an investor with the company since 2017 and we expect MPCC has been a good investment for them.”

Star Capital was a cornerstone investor when the company was starting out on what was then Oslo’s Merkur Market board.

In March, the fund sold a 6.19% slice of MPCC for $93m.

The biggest shareholder is now Germany’s CSI Beteiligungsgesellschaft, led by managing partner Axel Schroeder, who is also a board member of MPCC, chairman of parent MPC Capital and managing partner of MPC Capital shareholder MPC Holding.