Not all the fun was occurring on the speakers’ dais at the Connecticut Maritime Association annual commodore’s dinner honouring Eagle Bulk Shipping chief executive Gary Vogel last week.

Towards the front of the room was a table of equity analysts exchanging friendly banter and at one point mugging for the camera, as veteran researcher Omar Nokta playfully brandished an Eagle pennant.

None of the banquet chat touched on a couple of major moves that TradeWinds would disclose in the next several days: Randy Giveans leaving Jefferies after 11 years for a job with Navigator Holdings, and Clarksons Platou Securities’ Nokta giving notice and preparing to slide into Giveans’ old role.

Now perhaps the real fun starts, with a chance for a carousel of analyst jobs as the stock-pickers survey open positions.

As Streetwise reported on 24 March, chatter over shipping analyst jobs hasn’t always been fun. They were disappearing in 2019 and into 2020 as banks withdrew from the sector, casting a pall over the profession.

That trend has abated over the past year as coverage stabilised. So what has happened in the past week is a much happier story.

“I agree that this type of movement is preferred,” said long-time analyst Jonathan Chappell of Evercore ISI.

“It could indeed start some musical chairs if Omar is moving to Jefferies. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, or if an internal promotion just nips further movement in the bud.”

Streetwise can confirm that Nokta is moving to Jefferies, even if the analyst has declined to comment and the financial arm of the giant international shipbroker Clarksons has made no announcement.

His departure is not immediate and his name may appear on the firm’s research for a while, but Nokta’s next stop is at Giveans’ old firm.

Mr Inside or Mr Outside?

So the extent to which the chairs become musical depends on whether Clarksons Platou feels it has an internal candidate to place in Nokta’s role as head of US securities, where he worked in tandem with Oslo-based managing director Frode Morkedal.

Could a junior researcher be promoted, or a senior analyst transferred from another sector? Might someone like head of research Turner Holm, the Oslo-based renewables expert but an American, have interest in the US post?

This would be the status quo scenario, the boring one.

The other — an existing shipping analyst is hired from another bank — is the one that could get fun.

The job is attractive. In the view of one senior executive interviewed by Streetwise, the post is in some ways the best in shipping research.

“There’s no other analyst that has access to the same wealth of data that Omar does now because of the massive reach of the Clarksons organisation,” he said. “Plus there’s a certain degree of job security. Shipping is never going to fall from favour within Clarksons.”

So could that be appealing to a Magnus Fyhr of HC Wainwright or an Amit Mehrotra of Deutsche Bank — the other analysts sitting with Giveans and Nokta at the Eagle table? Or even to a veteran like Chappell, who, along with Mehrotra, has had to widen his coverage into other transport sectors such as trucking and rails?

Behind Nokta’s move?

Come to think of it, why would Nokta move on from the job? To the senior executive we spoke to, it probably says something about Jefferies’ level of commitment to shipping and what it has pledged to Nokta, who is renowned for his close work with and briefings to Clarksons Platou’s shipping sales force.

“Omar has taken it to the highest level,” he said. “You have a permanent ongoing education of the sales force in shipping names through a couple of briefings each day. If Jefferies embraces that approach, they could become an absolute machine, and it bodes well for shipping.”

Jefferies also boasts an investment banker, Douglas Mavrinac, who has been active in both equity deals and merger and acquisition/advisory work since switching from a longtime analyst’s role.

Much of what’s to come is, of course, speculative. But that’s a big part of the fun. And a lot more enjoyable than reporting that analysts are leaving the sector.

“Musical chairs is a lot better than hearing chairs are being taken away,” said the executive. “Maybe there’s a chair for each of them now.”

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