Major US-based institutional investor BlackRock has added exposure to product tanker giant Scorpio Tankers over the past year while cutting its position in smaller peer Ardmore Shipping by more than a quarter.

The asset manager also has trimmed its shareholding in New York-based International Seaways, which operates clean and crude tonnage, while holding steady in suezmax tanker pure-play Nordic American Tankers.

BlackRock revealed all of its new positions over the past two days as tanker shares were sliding for reasons having nothing to do with the big investor.

Most tanker names continued in the red on Friday trading in New York in what analysts say is likely a reaction to news that Israel and Hamas may be working out a ceasefire in their war.

The Yemen-based Houthi rebel group has been carrying out terror attacks on ships transiting the Red Sea in what they say is support for Hamas. Diversion of cargoes away from the Suez Canal has stoked shipping rates, especially in tankers and container ships.

Scorpio and Ardmore have been among the beneficiaries of rate spikes in clean tonnage.

LR2 rates have climbed above $100,000 per day while MRs also have benefited as traders resort to splitting stems given the scarcity of the larger tankers. Scorpio has both types of tankers while Ardmore owns MRs.

On the shareholding front, BlackRock is down to 2.62m shares or 6.4% of the New York-listed Ardmore after tipping a position of 3.54m or 8.6% at its annual report in March 2023.

At Ardmore’s current trading price around $16.20 per share, BlackRock’s position is worth about $42.5m.

Meanwhile, the fund has pumped its Scorpio shareholding to 3.25m units or 6.1% of the stock from a last-reported position of 2.75m units or 4.6% last March.

The Scorpio cache is worth about $218m at Friday’s share price.

BlackRock also has trimmed its stake in Lois Zabrocky-led Seaways. It now shows slightly over 3m shares or 6.2% of the company, down from 3.6m units or 7.4% at its reporting last April.

The current Seaways position is worth about $155m.

BlackRock’s stake in Herbjorn Hansson-led Nordic American Tankers has stayed nearly the same as reported in February last year at 12.2m shares or 5.9% of the company.

Losses continue

Virtually all of the BlackRock tanker stocks, and others, were losing share value in Friday’s action on the New York exchanges after also faltering on Thursday.

Ardmore was down about 0.5% in afternoon trading. Scorpio Tankers was off about 1.5% to $67 per share, while Torm of Denmark bled 2.5% to $42.

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On the crude side, the trend was similar. Market bellwether Frontline was down more than 2% to $21.50, while VLCC-focused DHT Holdings dropped 2.5% to $10.50 and Teekay Tankers shed the same percentage to $59.15.

One shipowner trading dirty and clean tonnage lost ground while another gained.

New York-based Seaways fell more than 1% to $51.80, but Tsakos Energy Navigation, which also operates a mixed fleet, was able to buck the trend with a 1.7% gain to $24.13.