Mergers and acquisitions are back on the shipping agenda after a tumultuous period in which losses for many companies mounted and potential consolidators were starved of hope. The M&A buzz has been triggered by the lessening of the pandemic-created downturn, which has left some shipowners looking for a more profitable way ahead — others, a way out.

With high debts and limited cash flow, some owners may again consider leaving the sector or at least ceding control to a better-financed rival.