Scokin flies in

Nasdaq-listed Ultrapetrol will have a new CEO from the airline industry after the Southern Cross fund completed its takeover.

The South American shipowner said Damian Scokin will take the top job from November, while chairman Horacio Reyser fills in on an interim basis.

Felipe Menendez and Ricardo Menendez will step down from their respective CEO and executive vice president positions, but remain with Ultrapetrol as directors.

In July, the shipowner said SIPSA, a holding company controlled by the Menendez family, had agreed to sell 25.32m shares at $4 each to Southern Cross, lifting the latter’s stake from 67% to 85%.

Scokin is CEO of the international businesses of Latam Airlines Group, the largest airline in South America.

He has previously been a partner at McKinsey & Company.

The trained industrial engineer has an MBA from Harvard.

Reyser, also a Southern Cross partner, said: "I would like to thank Felipe and Ricardo Menendez for their important contributions to Ultrapetrol over the years, from their vision in founding the company in 1992, to creating a leading shipping company focused on attractive markets, and now for their guidance as Ultrapetrol moves into this new chapter of its history.”

Southern Cross first bought into the shipowner in 2012 and has worked to with management to reduce the company's leverage and increase exposure to offshore shipping.

SIPSA has the option of buying the ocean shipping business for a price yet to be determined as part of the deal.

The $101m transaction closed on Wednesday.

The Ultrapetrol fleet consists of four products tankers, supply ships, two boxships and river barges and pushboats.