The former OMI Corp boss is back in a top-flight tanker position.
Former OMI Corp president Robert Bugbee is about to re-emerge in the tanker sector in a high-ranking executive position within Monaco-based Scorpio Ship Management, market sources say.
Bugbee is expected to play a key role in Scorpio's expansion plans from a base in Stamford when he comes on board on 1 February, a date that coincides with the expiration of a non-compete clause he signed after the $2.2bn sale of OMI to Teekay Corp and Torm of Denmark in 2007, they add.
Scorpio is also poised to announce that it is setting up an operations division, Scorpio India, that will include some personnel who had worked at OMI before being taken in by Teekay in the acquisition.
Attempts to reach Bugbee this week were not immediately successful.
TradeWinds also understands that former OMI operations chief Cameron Mackey will join Bugbee in a management role. Another former OMI cog, Olivier Faurisson, has already been Scorpio's chartering manager in Stamford for about 18 months. He had previously led chartering for products tankers at OMI.
Bugbee will serve under Scorpio chairman Emanuele Lauro, the nephew of prominent Italian shipowner Glauco Lolli-Ghetti, who died in 2006. Lauro has been presiding over an aggressive growth plan focussing on panamax and handymax tankers and dry-cargo operations.
Scorpio controls more than 40 tankers. About half operate in the Scorpio Panamax Pool, which was set up more than four years ago. The company also has been building the Scorpio Handymax Tankers Pool since 2007. Scorpio Shipping and Konig & Cie of Germany are partners in Scorship Navigation, formerly Scorship Tankers, a KG (limited partnership) venture involved in both the wet and dry markets.
Speaking to TradeWinds one year ago, Lauro was bullish on the company's direction as an owner.
"Buying one or two ships at these historically high levels wouldn't change the size or visibility of the company," he said. "The next move we make is going to be for a fleet rather than one or two units." But he added: "If you want to buy a fleet, you don't want to do it at the peak of the market." Pundits are expecting a weakening market heading into 2009 and a further decline in asset values. And now Scorpio will have Bugbee, who knows something about building a fleet.
For 12 years Bugbee was lieutenant to OMI chief executive Craig H Stevenson Jr. Together the two men transformed an ageing fleet into one of the industry's most attractive and in seven years built a stock that had traded at $1.50 per share into one that sold for $29.
OMI had a Scorpio connection in their partnership in the Libra handymax-products pool.
Following the OMI sale, Bugbee moved to New York hedge fund Ospraie Management Ltd in August 2007 in a bid to bolster its shipping expertise. But Ospraie was forced to close its flagship $3bn fund a year later after heavy losses related to the commodities market. It is understood that Bugbee was already considering a move back to shipping before Ospraie's bad news and he left the company shortly thereafter. Mackey had joined Bugbee at Ospraie as well.