10.04.2008 - Polaris buys VLCC for dry conversion

The single-huller 'Grand Mountain' is set to join three other VLCCs earmarked for conversion.

A newcomer to the South Korean shipping scene is preparing to rapidly build up a presence in the market for very large ore carriers (VLOCs).

Polaris Shipping has purchased the 261,000-dwt single-hull VLCC Grand Mountain (built 1993) for in excess of $45m from Hong Kong-based MS Tankers for conversion into a VLOC.

The purchase takes the fleet to five units.

Sources say the deal has yet to be finalised.

A Polaris official said: "We are growing very fast and now have five ships."

He says Polaris intends to convert the four VLCCs in its fleet into VLOCs for long-term charter to South Korea's Pohang Steel Corp (Posco).

Polaris bought its first VLCC in March last year. It acquired the 269,600-dwt Stellar Cosmo (ex- Suzuka , built 1992) for $38m from Japanese interests.

Four months later, the company purchased the 264,200-dwt Stellar Daisy (ex- Sunrise , built 1993) for $48m from Dynacom Tankers of Greece.

In early 2008, Polaris bought the 280,000-dwt Stellar Eagle (ex- Sylt , built 1993) from BW Shipping. No price has been disclosed.

The South Korean shipowner was established in 2004, when it purchased two containerships the 700-teu Stellar Ace (built 1992), which remains in the fleet, and 540-teu Stellar Bay (built 1984), which was sold last year.

A year later, Polaris bought the 19,000-dwt multipurpose (MPP) vessel Rotorua (built 1993). That ship has also been sold.

MS Tankers is a joint venture between Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) and Sinotrans Shipping.

Sinotrans, which owns 50% of the Grand Mountain , is trimming its fleet of elderly VLCCs. Last week, it sold the 1990-built, single-huller 280,000-dwt Grand Explorer for $35m.

The sale of the Grand Mountain leaves the joint venture with the 300,000-dwt newbuilding Grand Sea , which is due for delivery this month.

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