The leadership of venerable Connecticut tanker brokerage Charles R Weber is reported to have given notice of their departure for a competing firm, according to rumours rippling through the US tanker market on Tuesday.
The apparent departures of co-managing directors Christos Papanicolau and Christos Alexandros could not be immediately confirmed on Tuesday despite repeated messages to Weber.
The move would come only 15 months after the duo took the helm at the 82-year-old Greenwich firm, having replaced long-time managing director James Ford.
While some sources had not heard of a landing spot for the brokers, others pointed toward UK-based Oil Brokerage as the destination.
The fast-growing outfit is based in London and in recent years opened a US office in Houston. A message left at the Texas office was not immediately returned.
But there were also emerging rumours of broker resignations in London, leading other sources to speculate that a new brokerage might be taking shape. London-based Ocean Shipbrokers is another name making the rounds in tanker circles.
If the Oil Brokerage reports are correct, it would be the latest instance of a European house making expansion moves in US territory that traditionally has been the stronghold of native outfits like Weber, MJLF, Poten & Partners and McQuilling.
Sources indicate two other staffers, including a broker in Weber’s Houston office, are also making the move.
Papanicolaou and Alexandros — otherwise known as “the two Christoses” — had met with TradeWinds in May 2021 to discuss their path to the Weber leadership and their plans for the firm, which at the time had 35 staffers including 28 brokers in Greenwich and Houston. The house later added a Dubai office.
“Going forward we have large shoes to fill, plus our market is changing,” Papanicolaou said then.
“What we have to do, and there’s no design yet, is decide how we’re going to change along with the industry.”
Both men had been Weber veterans and friends for more than 25 years prior to taking over from Ford, who retired at 63.
“Our customers are demanding so much more of us these days,” Papanicolaou said. “What we have to be careful in deciding is, as the charterers demand more and the owners require more, how do we service both sides? It’s not just a matter of adding people, but how do we get better with the resources that we have.”
Oil Brokerage was founded by brokers Graham Cooper, Robert Smits and John Gilbert in London in 1989.
According to its website, the firm has expanded from physical gasoline trading to a brokerage offering “which can service products across the barrel and across all geographies”.
Tanker market sources say the outfit has been highly aggressive in recruiting, including in the US.