New family shareholders of Scorpio Ship Management are demonstrating their commitment to shipping by forking out around $104m for two modern panamax tankers.
Veteran Italian shipowner Glauco Lolli-Ghetti is stepping back and allowing his daughters to run the show. The move aims to secure the legacy of Scorpio and dispel doubts over the company's future.
The new shareholders have pressed ahead with the purchase of the 73,000-dwt, Samsung-built, long-range (LR) tankers Ariadne Jacob and Colin Jacob (built 2004) from Jacob Tankschiffahrt, which is a joint venture between Hansa Hamburg Shipping, Ernst Jacob and the Warburg bank.
The tankers already operate in the Jacob-Scorpio Tanker (JST) pool and will be retained as part of that operation.
Lolli-Ghetti, who turned 84 on Sunday, will remain president and chairman of the Scorpio board. Ownership has been transferred to his three daughters.
The new shareholders of Monte-Carlo-based Scorpio include his youngest daughter Maria-Amelia Lolli-Ghetti, who has been managing director of the company since 1990.
The second shareholder and eldest daughter, Analisa, is represented in the company by her son Emanuele A Lauro, who handles day-to-day management with general manager Aldo Poma. The third daughter, Giovanna, is a passive shareholder but remains committed since "the returns are great", according to a source.
Lolli-Ghetti also has a son who was bought out of the company 15 years ago and has no involvement in shipping.
Scorpio's pool connections have enabled it to get a good price on the panamax tankers, which are valued at around $55m.
It is understood that the financially strong group may not even finance the ships, enabling it to invest more heavily in shipping when the market turns.
At present, the JST pool numbers 11 panamax tankers, nine of which are Scorpio ships.
A further four Korean-built ships will be added two in 2006 and two in 2007 to boost Jacob's contribution from two following the Scorpio sale to six.
Scorpio managers say the pool is doing well after one year of operation.
The Scorpio-managed pool holds PDVSA orimulsion contracts that require the use of ice-class tonnage between Venezuela and Canada.
The change of ownership is said to coincide with a shift in managerial style that involves a more corporate approach to banks, brokers and charterers.
"We are running the company more as a corporation and not as a family business," said a Scorpio source. "We are now securing tonnage and giving the market a clear sign that we are going to be around for a long time."