Oslo-listed shipowner Belships has acquired two more Japan-built ultramax bulkers with time-charters attached and has fixed two other vessels on period charters. The Norwegian firm on Tuesday said it is adding two 64,000-dwt vessels that were built in 2019 and 2020 to its fleet. The pair have been financed through time-charter lease agreements for a fixed period of around five years, plus options to extend for a further two years. “We believe these agreements are immediately accretive for Belships’ shareholders and displays our ability to source transactions with short lead time and efficient use of capital,” said Belships CEO, Lars Christian Skarsgard. “The acquisitions and additional contract employment contribute to the company’s earnings prospects whilst maintaining our position with the most modern fleet within our segment.”

Belships did not reveal the commercial terms of the deal but said it will pay a $12m in total as down payment upon delivery of the vessels this quarter. Belships said it has options to repurchase the vessels “significantly below current market levels” but has no obligation to do so. Data platform VesselsValue.com estimates the current combined market value of a pair of 2019- and 2020-built bulkers of 60,000-dwt at $69.4m. Daily cash breakeven for each vessel will be about $11,200, which is around $1,200 higher than for the rest of the Belships fleet. One of the vessels is earning a gross rate of $21,000 per day on a time-charter that will run for another 2.5 years. The contract, which is included in the acquisition, includes extension options for two additional years at $21,000 and $22,000 per day. The other vessel has around six months remaining on a legacy time-charter at a gross rate of $13,600 per day, Belships said.

Separately, the company said it has fixed two of its other vessels on medium-term period charters but did not name the ships. One of its ultramaxes was this month chartered out for 21 to 24 months at a gross rate of $22,250 per day. A Belships supramax has also been fixed on an 11- to 13-months period charter at a gross rate of $29,500 per day, commencing by the end of this month.

The two acquisitions will bring the Belships fleet up to 29 supramax and ultramax bulk carriers with an average age of about 3.5 years and daily cash breakeven of around $10,000 per vessel this year. Belships has completed sale-and-leaseback deals for three ultramaxes so far this year, including a newbuilding. It has also been busy with taking long-term cover for its ships in the period market. “We’re going to be much more selective and conservative going forward, protecting the dividend capacity. We’ve been active on period charter coverage, effectively de-risking our earnings for this year and even for next year already,” Skarsgard told TradeWinds in February.

Belships on Tuesday said it plans to declare an extraordinary dividend payment with its first-quarter report for 2022. “Based on current market expectations, we expect to generate significant free cash flow and aim to pay quarterly dividends as announced with our dividend policy,” the company said. But the uncertain macro-economic climate prompted Fearnley Securities to cut Belships’ stock from ‘buy’ to ‘hold’ on Monday.