Fred Cheng has emphatically broken a record capesize sale-and-purchase drought with a string of deals typical of a shipowner known for moving in and out of markets in sizeable transactions.

Cheng's Shinyo International is understood to have sold three capesizes, ending a hiatus stretching back to the end of 2018.

Sources tell TradeWinds that Shinyo has sold the 184,900-dwt Shinyo Challenger (built 2002) for $12m to Chinese interests.

Cheng's 177,000-dwt Shinyo Endeavour (built 2002) is also understood to have been sold for a price in the region of $11m. Brokers name China's Seacon Shipping as the buyer.

Both Japan-built capesizes have been on the market for around a month.

Completing the flurry of sales activity is a third Cheng-owned capesize, the 194,291-dwt Shinyo Alliance (built 2005).

It was not officially for sale but caught a buyer's eye at around the $13m mark, sources say.

The transactions leave Cheng with a single capesize in his fleet, the 177,000-dwt Shinyo Diligence (built 2006).

Cheng's career contains a number of examples of him moving in and out of different sectors and his latest activity will have market watchers wondering which asset class or age range will capture his attention next.

Drought ends

The sales end a four-month break in capesize S&P activity, which is thought to be the longest on record.

The last time a capesize was confirmed to have been sold was in mid-December 2018.

However, the reported sales are doing little to rally sentiment in the capesize S&P market.

"A little improvement on nothing is basically nothing," one broker said.

Higher or lower?

Shinyo stands to make a combined loss of $2.45m on the vessels' purchase prices.

Data from shows that the value of a generic, fixed-age 15-year-old capesize has fallen 20% since 1 November 2018 and is currently $12.2m.

However, Cheng has made a $1.25m profit on the Shinyo Alliance, which he bought for $11.75m from Doun Kisen in March 2016 — at that time considered to be a rock-bottom price.

Shinyo later bought the Challenger for $13.9m from NS United in July 2017 and the Endeavor from Livanos-led Ceres Shipping for $12.8m in November the same year.

Failed sale

It was previously thought a Sanko Steamship vessel would be the first capesize sold in 2019, but that was dashed last week.

The 177,500-dwt Euro Fortune (built 2005) received offers in the region of $11.9m last Tuesday, following six months on the market.

Sanko, however, chose to withdraw the vessel from sale, rather than submit counter-offers.

Brokers told TradeWinds the seller had been hoping for a price closer to $13m.

Sanko is thought to be holding out for higher price because the company is "more desperate to sell" than Cheng, brokers say.

Brokers previously thought buyers would show a preference for the Euro Fortune over other capes on the market because the Japan-built vessel is in better overall condition.

Market activity will rise again after Easter

Any upturn in capesize S&P activity will likely be seen when people return to work after Easter and the new financial year commences in Japan.

"We may see new candidates and more willing sellers after they've balanced their books post-Easter," one broker told TradeWinds.

"It's not the case that the buying interest isn't there — it is — it's just getting the guys who want to sell."

Any new sellers of capesizes are more likely to be from the Far East than European, he said, as Asian owners like to sell vessels that have concluded long-term timecharters or dispose of them when ordering newbuildings.