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US-listed Shipowners Raise Capital at Record Speed

Posted on March 21, 2017

By Greg Miller, Fairplay

Public shipping companies have never raised more money in the US capital markets than they did in 2014, a year described as “astounding” by one industry banker.

According to data compiled by Fairplay, US-listed owners grossed an unprecedented USD8.17 billion via 63 offerings that year. Share pricing was far frothier in the 2003–08 super-boom years, and there were more initial public offerings, but there were fewer listed companies overall and lower follow-on proceeds in that earlier era.

With little fanfare, the US public shipping arena is now on track to topple 2014’s record. Including the USD60 million offering by Golden Ocean and the USD100 million offering by Navios Partners announced on 15 March, and assuming GasLog Ltd’s USD250 million bond sale goes ahead, Fairplay calculates that US-listed owners have grossed USD2.455 billion via 19 offerings in the year to date.

US-listed companies have raised more money in the first 10 weeks of 2017 than they did in the first 10 months of 2016. If the current fundraising pace continues through the remainder of the year – which is admittedly a big ‘if’ – 2017 will handily top the record set in 2014.

Beyond the sheer volume of activity, four trends stand out: investor interest in dry bulk, investor interest in liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipping, a rebound in the issuance of debt securities, and a heavy reliance on private placements.

Proceeds for companies with primarily bulker fleets totalled USD1.12 billion through mid-March, representing 45.7% of all money raised. Sellers of equity and debt securities in this sector have included Golden Ocean, Navios Partners, Eagle Bulk, Star Bulk, DryShips, and Globus Maritime.

Capital raising by US-listed LNG carrier owners totals USD1.1 billion year to date, representing 45.1% of all proceeds. Issuers have included Golar Ltd, Golar Partners, GasLog Ltd, GasLog Partners, and Teekay LNG Partners.

The remaining 9.2% of proceeds was raised through offerings by KNOT Offshore, Navigator Gas, Nordic American Offshore, and Top Ships. In addition, ongoing ‘at the market’ share offerings have been announced by Seaspan and TEN (in both cases, the volume of sales has yet to be disclosed).

In a major change from the previous two years, debt securities represent 58% of year-to-date gross proceeds, driven by issuances of Norwegian bonds, US unsecured senior notes, Term Loan B securities, and convertible preferred debt. In 2015 and 2016, debt securities represented only 19% and 20% respectively of total proceeds.

Meanwhile, US-listed shipping companies are continuing to raise a large percentage of proceeds via private placements, registered direct offerings, and other avenues besides traditional public sales. There has not been a US initial public offering by a shipping company since 2015.

Through mid-March, 49% of offering proceeds have been obtained through private sales. According to Fairplay data, private proceeds represented 44% of gross proceeds raised by US-listed shipping companies in 2016, but in all previous years, such sales represented less than 10% of annual tallies.

Source: Fairplay

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