The newly announced Danish shipping investment fund, Maritime Investment Fund, headed by pension funds PensionDanmark and Danica Pension is likely just the first of several such funds aimed at investing in buying and selling vessels, PensionDanmark CEO Torben Möger Pedersen tells ShippingWatch.

PensionDanmark is the biggest investor in Maritime Investment Fund, in which the pension fund will account for USD 200 million of the around USD 300 million in total capital.

For us this is the beginning of what will certainly become a long-term partnership in the circle around the first fund"

— Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO, PensionDanmark

A newly-established investment unit, Navigare Capital Partners, headed by Managing Partner Henrik Ramskov, who previously worked at Maersk Broker, will oversee the investments.

Maersk behind the business model

The business model was developed at Maersk Broker, but it remains unclear how much the broker, owned by the Maersk family, has invested in the venture.

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Maersk Broker CEO Anders Hald declines to comment on the company's direct or indirect involvement in the investment project.

"We have deemed a broad portfolio of vessels interesting. We also believe that the timing is right, as ship asset prices are fairly low. We are also aware that this is an asset type whose value largely depends on developments in freight rates and global trade. As such, we understand that the market value of the portfolio can fluctuate on the short term. But viewed on the longer perspective and across a business cycle, we believe that we can achieve a solid return on this investment," says Möger Pedersen:

"For us this is the beginning of what will certainly become a long-term partnership in the circle around the first fund, likely just the first of several funds that will be established at intervals of some years."

Long-term partnership

"We have a balance sheet and a capital volume which are growing considerably, and as such we have a net investment need in the years to come. And as we expect that this first fund will do well, we're definitely prepared to also investment in the next fund when the time comes. This is an innovative move in a Danish context, in which we're drawing on the strong competences and experience found in this team (Navigare Capital Partners, ed.) built around Henrik Ramskov."

As such, a circle was established around Maersk Broker, and in extension the Maersk family"

— Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO, PensionDanmark

In addition to Ramskov as Managing Partner, the team includes Lars Bagge Christensen, former president of Norden, as well as John Boesen, previously of Nordea, and Stig Enslev who, like Ramskov, has a history with Maersk Broker.

New business opportunities

"There has in the past six months or so been a dialog in which we as investors have been interested in finding a responsible way to invest in ships. As such, a circle was established around Maersk Broker, and in extension the Maersk family, and these parties have seen certain business opportunities in utilizing its strong competences," explains Möger Pedersen.

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This marks PensionDanmark's first direct investment in ships beyond its exposure in carriers through the pension fund's portfolio of listed shares.

"Investments in ships represent a new active business in our portfolio."

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All-time low asset values across the various shipping sectors, from tanker and dry bulk to container, have on the international stage resulted in the creation of new financial businesses in shipping, aimed at utilizing the gap left by the many major banks after they have suffered enormous losses on loans for ships.

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Two new niche shipping banks have been established in recent months, one in Oslo and one in Germany.

The world's biggest shipbroker, Clarksons, notes that investor interest in shipping has resurfaced within just a short period of time, and that the prospect of successful IPOs looks more promising today than just a few months ago.

British pension funds on the way

The Danish pension funds' investments in shipping come after news that London-based Marine Capital is working on a new investment project in shipping in 2017 with capital from institutional pension funds – a project that could cover investments of more than USD 500 million, Marine Capital CEO Tony Foster recently told ShippingWatch.

Marine Capital is already active with investments in dry bulk, where the company owns seven vessels. But the investment venture will cover all the main shipping segments.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

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