Peter Weernink is plotting rapid and ambitious expansion of his new dry cargo venture after returning from a year on the sidelines with a project backed by some of the biggest names in shipping.
Weernink this week launched Singapore Marine, which will focus on bulkers from post-panamax through to capesize, after securing $105m in investment.
While Weernink is the largest shareholder, John Fredriksen’s Golden Ocean, Theodore Veniamis’ Golden Union, the Martinos family’s Thenamaris and John Michael Radziwill have all put money into the project.
Former Glencore and Simpson Spence Young man Angus Paul and Will Snellings of Marianas Fund Management are also named investors.
Weernink described the all-star cast as “financial investors” and explained there were no formal agreements with the shipowners to commit tonnage to Singapore Marine.
Clear targets for growth
“Of course, there is trust and we are likely to do business,” he added, stressing the plan was to build a “large-scale venture”.
“Large scale, if we talk this year, if we could get to 50 ships, that would be satisfactory.
“Three years from now, if we are not between 150 and 200 ships, that would be disappointing. This will be a large-scale venture.”
Weernink, a Cargill-trained Dutchman, is not the only former SwissMarine face on the Singapore Marine team.
Trader Deyan Mihov and operator Anders Tea have joined in Singapore, while Ardalan Sappino and Phillip Hagan will work out of the Geneva office.
Weernink, who has listed his position on Linkedin as “Gapyear! at God's Business”, said he had spent his time away from the industry front line raising finance. “And as you can see, we have a Verbier office now,” he joked of the Singapore Marine office at the Swiss ski resort.
“We expect to grow the team rapidly, in line with how the fleet will grow,” he added.
Dry cargo rates have endured a difficult few months since the collapse of a Vale dam in Brazil in January sent sentiment crashing in the capesize market, further derailing a recovery that was beginning to unfold before a dip in the fourth quarter of 2018.
However, Weernink is not concerned about launching a bulker venture when the Baltic Dry Index sits at just 734 points.
“In a trading venture you make money on the market going up or down, or lose money on a market going up or down. The level does not necessarily imply very much,” he said.
While Singapore Marine bears resemblances to SwissMarine, where Weernink resigned as chief executive last May, it will not be investing in ships of its own for now. “Not in the initial phase,” he said when pressed about buying ships.
Golden Ocean has provided $10m in capital and a further $10m via a shareholder loan to take a 15% stake in Singapore Marine.
Golden Ocean’s chief commercial officer, Thomas Semino, a former Vitol executive, will sit on the board.
“While Singapore Marine will operate independently from Golden Ocean and our participation in the company is primarily financial, we expect to derive additional value through this relationship,” Semino said.