The Greek shipping family Halkias' dry bulk shipping venture has been growing healthily since commencing operations in Singapore in late 2016.
The venture, DCC Bulk Transport, is now operating eight bulk carriers ranging from 32,000 dwt to 61,000 dwt, which have been fixed from tonnage providers for between three months and one year.
More vessels could be added to the fleet, Fairplay was told, as DCC Bulk continues to build up its cargo book.
Fairplay was told by company sources that the vessels are deployed to service two short-term contracts of affreightment (COAs), which relate to alumina cargoes and cement/clinker materials, as well as the shipping of forward and spot cargoes.
Company sources estimate that 30% of the 2.5 million tonnes of cargoes that DCC Bulk will ship in 2017 will come from the COAs.
Originally the Singapore branch of the Halkias family's shipowning entity Meandro Lines, the company, was rebranded as DCC Bulk Transport and commenced chartering activities in December 2016.
DCC is an acronym for Dynamic Cargo Carrier.
The Halkias family entered the shipping business in the 1970s with the incorporation of Meandro Lines SA in Panama. The latter, which remains the head company in the Halkias family's business, maintains its headquarters in Greece. In 2009, amid the global financial crisis, the Halkias family diversified into tanker ownership and commercial management with the incorporation of Westgate Tankships Inc in the Marshall Islands. This company, headed by Constantinos Halkias, still maintains its base in Greece.
In January 2015, Westgate Tankships Inc formed a joint venture (JV) with the Tulshyan group that is also behind cash buyer Wirana Shipping Corporation. The JV, RS Tankers Ltd, is registered in Hong Kong and commercially manages four Suezmax tankers. These tankers are on long-term time-charter to blue-chip clients such as BP and Vitol.
In the same year, Meandro Lines SA exited the ownership of bulk carriers with the demolition of 1995-built Capesize bulk carrier Coppersmith.
As the dry bulk market went south from late 2014, the Halkias group chose to focus on managing tankers.
With the market showing some signs of recovery, the Halkias family decided to get back into dry bulk shipping in late 2016, hiring Thoresen Shipping's former head of risk management Mikal Boe to oversee the chartering operations at DCC Bulk.
To hedge its forward exposures, DCC Bulk is engaged in the trading of derivatives, including entering into Forward Freight Agreements (FFAs) and bunker swap contracts. We have been provided with no detail as to the scale or duration of these contracts or whether these have been cleared.
In April 2017, DCC Bulk and an undisclosed European pension fund entered into a long-term agreement, under which the former will provide working capital and will participate/take a share in the time charters of up to 12 additional bulk carriers. The pension fund will receive part of the profits generated from the employment of the chartered-in fleet.
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