A new-style container leasing company is being established by Tiger Group Investments, a private investment firm that concentrates exclusively on the maritime sector, writes Janet Porter .
Tiger’s move coincides with the early stages of a recovery in the box trades that could leave ocean carriers short of equipment after the severe spending constraints of the past year. Furthermore, finance is expected to remain very tight as many banks continue to steer clear of shipping-related lending, particularly in the container sector.
Tiger chairman Graham Porter, one of the founders of the New York-listed containership owner Seaspan, expects the new business to benefit from the company’s close relationship with many of the top liner operators, container manufacturers and financiers.
Hong Kong-headquartered Tiger will slowly build a portfolio using the same model as Seaspan, with investments only undertaken if backed by firm medium- or long-term charter commitments from blue-chip customers, Mr Porter told Lloyd’s List. That is in contrast to some of the big container box lessors that are more focused on shorter-term and or master lease-type business.
Tiger has also invested in another shipowner and lessor, Greathorse Shipping Holdings, based in Shanghai, which owns bulkers, chemical tankers, and small containerships, while taking care not to encroach on Seaspan’s business mandate of owning and chartering out containerships in excess of 1,000 teu capacity. Seaspan’s boxship fleet ranges in size from 2,500 teu to 13,100 teu.
Tiger has developed two distinct investment streams. One division uses private equity to invest in longer-term projects of $50m-$200m, maintaining control and active management of the businesses into which it has bought. The second handles smaller deals of $50m-$100m that may be more short-term and include minority stakes or loans to maritime businesses.
The company’s latest project is taking shape, with Tiger about to start ordering containers and signing leasing agreements with ocean carriers. The company has not disclosed the size of the container fleet it is hoping to establish.