Grieg Star and Maas Capital have teamed up to form a dry cargo shipowning joint venture.

The new partners have both taken a 50% stake in GriegMaas, which is targeting further investment in supramax and ultramax bulk carriers.

The JV starts out with a two-vessel fleet, having acquired Grieg Star’s 58,000-dwt supramaxes, Star Athena and Star Eracle (both built 2012), earlier this month.

GriegMaas will continue to expand its fleet during 2019 through the acquisition of “high-quality” vessels, a statement said.

The fleet will be managed commercially by G2 Ocean, itself a JV between Grieg Star and Bergen-based Gearbulk, which operates the world's largest fleet of geared open-hatch bulkers.

“GriegMaas will further strengthen our position within the supramax and ultramax segments, and thus further strengthen G2 Ocean’s bulk activities,” Camilla Grieg, chief executive of Grieg Star, said in a statement.

Corporate and shipmanagement services for the new venture will be provided by Grieg Star.

Mark Ras, head of Maas Capital, said the new JV “exemplifies our investment approach, in which we aim to invest in top-tier assets together with leading and longstanding industry players”.

Old friends, new plan

A spokesperson for the Norwegian shipowner said the two companies had known each other for several years.

"This is not a case of third party introduction based on some special needs, but rather a case of the right time to join forces for both parties," he said.

"We both believe in solid fundamentals for supras and ultras given the right vessel design, appropriate financing platform and quality in commercial and technical management.

"Combine that with a market we see becoming somewhat firmer going forward, and you have the reasoning behind the JV."

The timing of Maas’ investment in supramaxes is interesting.

According to VesselsValue, the market value of a seven-year-old supramax - like those purchased by GriegMaas - is around 50% higher today than at this point in 2017.

VesselsValue today prices the two bulkers, for which Grieg paid $30m as resales, at around $14m apiece.

Official Norwegian registries value the two Dayang-built ships at $30m in total.

Grieg also owns two other Dayang-built bulkers the 63,000-dwt Star Artemis and Star Eos (both built 2015) and has two bulkers on long-term charter.

Maas Capital growth continues

Amsterdam-based Maas is owned and controlled by ABN AMRO Bank and focuses on co-investments and joint ventures with “leading and longstanding industry players” within shipping and the marine sectors, according to its website.

“For potential investments, excellent service levels and operational track records are just as important as the quality of state-of-the art vessels and platforms,” Maas states on its website.

The GriegMaas deal gives Maas Capital a foothold in the dry bulk segment, having already formed an investment vehicle for the tanker trade.

Maas established ClearOcean Tankers in May 2018, a shipowning venture with Dragnis-led Oceangold Tankers and commodity trader Gunvor.

It has four MR2 product tankers under construction at STX Offshore and two LR2 product tankers being built at Daehan Shipbuilding, all of which are due for delivery during the first half of 2019.

Maas Capital in 2017 became a shareholder in US-based container leasing company CS Leasing and was a shareholder of Poseidon Containers prior the company’s merger with Global Ship Lease in late 2018.

(Trond Lillestolen also contributed to this article)