The sale and purchase market appears to have been notably active in recent years, with European owners leading the pack in buying up vessels. While Europe has been the main buyer region, the picture between owner countries in each region remains mixed. Greek owners have been the key European buyers, while Chinese and Japanese owners have taken very different approaches to S&P activity.
Tracking The S&P Market
The sale and purchase market has seen firm activity since the start of 2014, with 3,313 vessels of a combined 117.7m GT reported sold during this time. This compares to a total of 97.8m GT reported sold in the period 2011-2013. The uptick in sales has been characterised by an increase in the volume of tonnage purchased by European owners, who have been responsible for the majority of recent buying activity in the S&P market.
Greeks Catching The Scent
In 2016 so far European owners have bought a reported 241 vessels of 9.2m GT, accounting for 59% of tonnage purchased with owner nationality disclosed. As is often the case, Greek owners have been particularly active, buying a reported 109 ships of 5.0m GT in the year so far, far more than any other European owner country. Although Greek owners have also sold large volumes of tonnage, they have consistently been the biggest ‘net buyers’ of any owner nation. This has contributed to rapid growth of 22% in the Greek owned fleet since January 2014.
While other European shipowning nations have been active in the S&P market in recent years, they have mainly been ‘net sellers’. German owners are among the most prominent, buying a reported 0.5m GT in 2016 so far, compared to reported sales of 2.1m GT. Since the collapse of the KG finance system, they have sold large volumes of tonnage, with the German-owned fleet shrinking 5% since January 2014 in GT terms. Elsewhere, Norwegian and Italian owners have also been net sellers in the same period.
Asian Buyers Hounded Out?
Asia/Pacific owners account for around 30% of tonnage reported purchased each year in the S&P market since 2007. In 2016 so far, Chinese owners have been the key buyers, adding a reported 2.5m GT to their fleet through S&P activity. Chinese owners have bought the largest share of tonnage of any Asia/Pacific owner nation in every year on record, accounting for 45% of GT purchased since the start of 2007 by Asia/Pacific owners with nationality disclosed. In contrast, Japanese owners have been consistent net sellers. In the year to date Japanese owners have bought a reported 0.1m GT, following a combined total of just 0.7m GT in 2014 and 2015. Instead, they have generally looked to the newbuilding market to grow their fleet, ordering 27.1m GT since the start of 2014.
Although European owners have purchased double the volume of tonnage of Asian owners in recent years, the situation varies greatly between countries. In Asia, Chinese owners have been far more active buyers than others, especially Japanese owners. Meanwhile, Greek-led buying activity has been the main driver behind European owners’ clear lead over their Asian counterparts in buying up secondhand tonnage.