Greek-Cypriot owner Polys Hajioannou predicted five months ago that towards the end of 2021 charterers would be looking to fix bulkers for at least three years. His forecast is beginning to look accurate. Safe Bulkers, the US-listed company he heads, announced late on Monday that it had concluded a period time charter for a minimum three years for a 181,000-dwt capesize it bought in early August.

Unknown charterers have agreed to pay $24,400 per day to employ the Japanese-built vessel from November, when Safe Bulkers is expected to take delivery. Charterers, which some brokers identify with agricultural firm Olam, have the option to extend the deal for a year at $26,500 per day.

In a statement, Safe Bulkers president Loukas Barmparis described the deal as an “attractive period time charter … which enhances visibility of our future cash flows”. The company said it expects the deal to generate about $26.7m in gross revenue over the ship’s minimum three years of employment.

The agreement vindicates Safe Bulkers’ chief executive and majority shareholder, Polys Hajioannou, who told investors in a conference call in May that the bulker freight market would improve further and, that in a few months, charterers would seek multi-year deals to employ vessels. In anticipation of such deals, Hajioannou said he was keeping a considerable part of his company’s fleet of about 40 bulkers in the spot market.

The development also vindicates Safe Bulkers’ decision to buy the Stelios Y back in August — its first capesize acquisition since 2018. Safe Bulkers paid $32.3m for the ship, which brokers believe to be Doun Kisen’s Yumetamou. The deal was structured as a 12-month bareboat charter agreement under which Safe Bulkers paid $4.5m upfront, a further $4.5m on the ship’s delivery and $14,500 per day over the following 12-month period, at the end of which the company will have an option to buy the vessel for $18m.

The residual steel value of the vessel today is about $14.5m,” Barmparis noted in the company’s statement. Safe Bulkers was one of the first Greek companies to order bulker newbuildings ahead of the market boom. It has eight kamsarmaxes and post-panamaxes under construction in Japan.

The Baltic Capesize Index continued climbing on 4 October to 9,289 points, its highest level since 2008, as demand for iron ore and coal put a huge strain on the commodities supply chain.