03-01-2023 Eagle Bulk seals mooted ultramax buy, extends fleet count to 54, By Joe Brady, TradeWinds
New York-listed Eagle Buk Shipping completed a bit of Christmas shopping over the holidays, closing the reported buy of the 63,600-dwt Stony Stream (built 2015) for $24.2m. The Connecticut-based owner had been said to be negotiating the purchase without any closure of the deal at TradeWinds’ last report on 19 December. Market sources are now confirming that the ultramax purchase has been sealed, pushing Eagle Bulk’s fleet to 54 vessels.
Eagle Bulk has a policy of not commenting on market rumors, but traditionally has disclosed completed sales with a public statement. The ultramax acquisition, Eagle’s second in 2022, confirms that while the Gary Vogel-led owner may not have fleet expansion or renewal as its top priority, it remains interested in one- or two-vessel style pickups in the secondhand market as prices come off recent highs. The owner also is likely to continue such purchases using cash on the balance sheet to avoid higher interest rates associated with conventional ship-mortgage financing.
The Equasis and VesselsValue databases say the ship, which was built at Chengxi Shipyard in China, is owned by US Bank Equipment Finance, and managed by Nortus Management of Greece. The reported price tag is somewhat lower than the $27.5m that Eagle said it paid in a September deal for the 62,100-dwt Ultra Trust (built 2015), which has since been renamed Tokyo Eagle. Part of the difference may be reflected in a sale-and-purchase market that has seen values slipping since the summer. Ultra Trust also was built in Japan and came equipped with an exhaust-gas scrubber, both factors that would create a price premium.
Eagle has installed scrubbers on 48 supramax and ultramax vessels in its fleet, making it the rare owner in the midsize-tonnage sector to widely employ the equipment. The decision has helped Eagle remain solidly profitable even as rates in the smaller vessel classes swooned in the second half of 2022.
Eagle is one of two US-based owners known to have pursued a larger acquisition in 2022, having joined New York owner Genco Shipping & Trading in investigating a buy of Singapore’s Grindrod Shipping. Grindrod ultimately went to Taylor Maritime Investments of the UK.