59 Evangelos Marinakis, Capital Group

Despite his breadth of interests and activities, the group's owner always seems to be making something happen across the shipping spectrum

08 December 2020

Mr Marinakis is one of a minority of shipowners whose public footprint can match the size of their fleet, but that does not appear to have diminished his focus on the maritime business

THAT rarity, a major shipowner who is as well-known publicly as he is among industry circles, Evangelos Marinakis cannot seem to avoid making headlines.

In 2020, that included becoming the first A-list shipping personality to announce he had tested positive for coronavirus.

The Greek owner duly recovered from what appears to have been a moderate case of the virus, which was diagnosed after he attended a match involving his UK football club, Nottingham Forest.

In Greece, Mr Marinakis owns perennial title-winners Olympiacos and, outside football, he is also well-known for his media empire and involvement in local politics. He triumphed again in the Piraeus city council elections, winning the highest number of votes of any candidate.

Both in Greece and beyond, Mr Marinakis has gained recognition for his largesse, in charitable causes, cultural support and educational endowments.

However, the breadth of his interests and activities has not caused him to take his eye off the ball when it comes to his core shipping business.

His Capital Group is highly unusual in spanning five main market sectors: crude oil and product tankers, dry bulk, containers and, most recently, liquefied natural gas shipping.

That diversity is all the more eye-catching as Mr Marinakis is not a passive portfolio player but puts great importance on doing technical and commercial management in-house to the highest standards.

Being hands-on is a clear personal imperative and he has little patience with those he deems to have taken their eye off the ball.

This was illustrated by statements made at a recent Capital Link conference in which the owner participated.

Never shy about calling out those he deems worthy of criticism, Mr Marinakis called the spin-off of his Capital Product Partners product tanker fleet in a 2019 merger with Diamond S. Shipping one of the worst business decisions he had made.

"Ultimately, we found out that we did not share the same vision and motivation with the management," he said.

In Mr Marinakis' view, "the company's performance was unsatisfactory, as they failed to take advantage of the good tanker markets to sell older assets and take time charter coverage, while the commercial performance and overall governance has been disappointing".

Capital Product shareholders took one-third of Diamond S., with Mr Marinakis still holding about 8%.

While it could be inferred that being spread over so many sectors reduces an individual group's influence in any one area, Mr Marinakis seems always to be making something happen across the spectrum of shipping.

In the past two years, he handsomely sold a quintet of 10,000 teu boxships picked up cheaply in the wake of Hanjin Shipping's 2017 bankruptcy, with three of those dropping down to Nasdaq-listed Capital Product, with long-term charters to Hapag-Lloyd.

Five aframax tankers bought in 2018 have been similarly turned around.

When it comes to financing, Mr Marinakis seems to have a gamut of options.

Between mid-2019 and the end of 2020, the group concluded about $700m worth of sale-and-leaseback transactions in the Chinese market, including sales of two of Capital Gas' seven LNG newbuildings built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, two new very large crude carriers and three containerships.

Mr Marinakis is able to marshal interest from private equity funds. Recent partnerships have included funding for two of the LNG carriers.

While many owners today are reluctant to order new ships, citing uncertainty about technology in light of decarbonisation, Capital is continuing to explore shipbuilding projects that it sees as a vehicle for growth and expertise.

With an eye on the longer term, it has been prominent among owners investigating dual-fuel projects and the group is represented among the 14 European companies in the ShipFC project investigating ammonia-powered fuel cells for vessels.

Mr Marinakis also appeared in the Top 100 in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.