Novellas Union, a German KG (limited partnership) product tanker venture set up by Britain’s Union Maritime and private equity investor Apollo Global Management, is said to have sold its last five ships, possibly to Greek interests.
The 46,200-dwt sisterships Port Said, Port Union and Port Stanley (all built 2003), as well as the Port Moody (built 2002), all constructed at South Korea’s STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, fetched $29m in total, according to several broker reports in the UK, US and Greece.
The deal is described as a bank sale.
A smaller vessel built in China, the 38,900-dwt Port Stewart (built 2003), was reported sold in a separate deal to Middle Eastern or European interests for $6.6m to $6.8m.
Some online directories already show the ship renamed as Port S.
Some shipping sources in Athens named Aerio Shipmanagement, a Greek company listed with two small tankers, as a possible buyer of the STX-built quartet. Other Athens sources, however, said the company has committed to buy only two of the four vessels.
Aerio chief executive Athanasios Kossidas did not respond to requests for comment.
Kossidas previously held positions at Deutsche Bank and Fitch Ratings. Four years ago, he told TradeWinds he was looking to expand and was set on 15,000-dwt clean tankers and MRs.
Managers at Apollo also did not respond to a request for comment. The US investment giant has several other shipping interests, including participation in dry bulk company Genco Shipping & Trading and a quartet of product tankers managed by Greece’s Prime Marine.
Novellas Union, which controlled the five tankers reported sold, is led by Thomas Bindseil, who is also managing director of Union Commercial Services — a Hamburg arm of the Union Maritime Group.
Union Maritime managers declined to comment, apart from saying their company did not own the ships outright and it was merely in charge of their commercial management.
The Novellas Union fleet initially consisted of 14 ships acquired by Apollo in a 2014 deal reportedly worth $200m. However, Apollo’s enthusiasm for the ships did not last and the mixed fleet of vintage bulkers and tankers has been gradually wound down.
The ships it is reportedly selling now were the last units in its fleet. TradeWinds reported last year that one of them, the Port Union, was briefly arrested in a dispute over unpaid fuel bills — despite the deep pockets of its owners.
The $1.5m claim was filed by bunker supplier Integr8 Fuels, a member of the Navig8 group. The claim concerned not only the Port Union’s fuel bills but also those of the Port Said and Port Stewart.
The Port Union's troubles did not end there. Equasis data shows it was detained for 26 days over the past two months, in two port state control inspections in the US.
The US Coast Guard detained the ship at Texas City, Texas, in August for deficiencies related to its inert gas system and its emergency fire pump and pipes. In September, it was detained at St Petersburg, Florida, for discharging slops and inadequate provision of lifebuoys.
Joe Brady contributed to this article