Ignazio Messina of Italy is purchasing a brace of midsize boxships to replace two conro vessels it is selling.

The Genoa-based liner operator is splashing out more than $50m to purchase the 4,600-teu Northern Promotion (built 2010) and Northern Priority (built 2009) for its growing container shipping operation.

Brokers believe the family-run company is paying around $28m per ship, which Messina will use for services to the Middle East Gulf and India.