PRIVATE equity is likely to start taking a stronger interest in shipmanagement, having got comfortable with investing in shipowners, thinks Clive Richardson, chief executive of V.Group, one of the industry’s leading shipmanagers, and itself controlled by PE funds.
Talking to an audience of other ship managers during London International Shipping Week, Mr Richardson said private equity funds had helped V.Group grow and invest in expansion, saying the funders should not be seen as the “asset-stripping locusts” they are often portrayed as.
The fund owners of V-group have invested $30m since 2010, he said.
Shipmanagement is undoubtedly going through a change — more private equity ownership in shipping and the level of mergers has led to a growing role in shipmanagement. V.Group manages about 900 ships today.
However, the changing market has also led to a recent merger of two Asian firms to create Anglo-Eastern Univan.
Mr Richardson’s comments were contradicted somewhat by Stavros Tsolakis, professor at Singapore Management University, who suggested that private equity would inevitably seek an exit strategy from shipping as soon as the liquidity returned to the shipping market.
While Mr Richardson concurred that some private equity could not be considered long term in shipping, he argued that for the right companies with the right growth potential, private equity would continue to offer significant benefits to both companies and investors. Read more