The Major ‘Navigate’ and ‘Generate’ Tanker Groups
Two major independent tanker operators have been established during the last twenty years, with currently at the end of 2017 a very large fleet of 250 owned, managed and pooled large tankers in the Navig8 Group, and fifty VLCC, Suezmax, Aframax and Panamax tankers in the Gener8 Group. These related tanker groups now rival competitors such as Frontline, Teekay, Tsakos and the Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) in the independent charter tanker market. The founder of Gener8 was Peter Georgiopoulos, who was born in New York in 1961, where his father was a maritime lawyer. He was educated in the Bronx, and gained degrees from Fordham University in New York and Dartmouth University. He began his maritime career with Tsakos Shipping and Trading (later TEN Shipping) in both their New York office and their headquarters in Piraeus, and then in the mid 1980s with financial investment firms in New York and Connecticut. He learned the art of using high yield bonds, sometimes known as ‘junk bonds’, to finance shipping company expansions at high risk, as some shipping companies were unable to secure investment grade bonds at a much lower risk.
General Maritime Ship Holdings INC.
Peter Georgiopoulos started his own maritime financing company as Maritime Equity Management in Manhattan in New York just before his thirtieth birthday in 1991. He was able to use his contacts in the high risk bond and hedge fund financial investment industry to put together equity solutions for ship financing. The first deal was for a half equity in the coastal Norwegian chemical tanker Trollvann of 7,287 dwt and built in 1985 for Bjornebo Rederi A/S of Oslo. A further eleven such deals followed over the next five years, often selling the vessel on a very profitable return. His expertise in the field of ship financing inevitably brought him to the point where he could begin to own a sizeable tanker fleet. This occurred in 1997 when he set up General Maritime Ship Holdings Inc. (GenMar), and his first pair of tankers were purchased as the Aframax tanker Nausicaa of 135,000 dwt and built in 1989 for French oil major Total, and Wilomi Alta of 133,300 dwt built in 1990 for OMI Corporation Inc. of New York and renamed as Alta. Management of these tankers had been contracted within a year to Universe Tankships (Delaware) Inc., incorporated on 1st July 1998 in Houston (Texas) as a successor company to the much more famous huge tanker fleet begun in 1956 by Daniel K. Ludwig as Universe Tankships Inc.
Universe Tankships INC.
Daniel K. Ludwig was born on 24th June 1897 in Michigan as the only child of an estate agent, and at the age of nineteen years he established a cargo shipping business by transporting molasses around the Great Lakes, and also the more risky trade of rum running during the Prohibition era. He sustained a painful back injury in the 1920s during the rescue of two seamen from one of his ships, an injury that was to stay with him for the rest of his life. His initial investment was of $5,000 in an old steamer that was converted into a barge, and twenty years later he owned a much larger fleet of tankers financed on a novel technique. He was the first tanker owner in the world in the 1930s to use the business model of borrowing the construction cost of tankers and using pre-arranged charters as collateral.
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