New York and Connecticut investment funds rushed into shipping in the decade after the financial crisis, believing they’d make a killing buying low and selling high. Many failed miserably, much to the amusement of industry old-timers — the shipping cycle is not as predictable as newcomers think.
But at least some funds did indeed buy low and sell high. An extreme case in point is New York-based Mangrove Partners, which acquired seven container ships when values were depressed in 2017-18 and just reportedly unloaded six of them at eye-wateringly high prices.
No one could have predicted the explosion in container-ship values in the wake of COVID, as consumer demand and congestion caused freight rates and charter rates to skyrocket. Mangrove, which bought its fleet pre-COVID, got lucky.
Ship brokerage Compass Maritime called it “one of the most remarkable asset plays in recent memory.” According to information from U.K.-based data provider VesselsValue and Compass (which cited other reports), the six Mangrove container ships were bought for an aggregate price of around $62 million and sold for $348 million to $358 million-plus. Assuming all six sales go through, this implies a return of almost $300 million.
Ships named after New England Patriots
It’s a time-honored tradition among old-timers to consider a commercial vessel a “she” and christen it with a female or non-gender-specific name.
Mangrove opted for testosterone instead. Once Mangrove purchased its ships, it renamed them after former or current members of the New England Patriots:
MP The Belichick — Named after Mangrove Partners (MP) and Pats head coach Bill Belichick. Built 2006, capacity: 5,060 twenty-foot equivalent units. Bought by Mangrove in September 2017 from Germany’s Patjens Reederei for $9.5 million, according to VesselsValue. Alphaliner reported that this ship and three others have just been sold to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) for $240 million en bloc; all four had previously been on charter to MSC. VesselsValue put the sale price for this ship at $60.4 million, 6.3 times the purchase price.
MP The Brady — Named after former Pats quarterback Tom Brady, now the quarterback of the Super Bowl LV-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Built 2005, 5,060 TEUs. Bought by Mangrove in August 2017 for $7.5 million as part of a three-ship en bloc sale by Germany’s Rickmers Reederei, which was insolvent at the time. Sold this month as part of the MSC en-bloc deal for around $60 million, eight times what it was purchased for four years before.
MP The Gronk (ship picture here) — Named after former Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski, who followed Brady to the Bucs. Built 2005, 5,050 TEUs. Bought by Mangrove in August 2017 for $7.5 million from Rickmers, sold this month to MSC for eight times its purchase price.
MP The Edelman — Named after former Pats wide receiver Julian Edelman, who retired after the 2020 season. Built 2005, 5,060 TEUs. Bought by Mangrove in August 2017 for $7.5 million from Rickmers, sold this month to MSC for eight times its purchase price.
MP The McGinest — Named after Willie McGinest, a linebacker with the Pats through 2006. Built 2010, 4,400 TEUs. Bought by Mangrove in July 2018 from Greece’s Dioryx Maritime for $15.2 million, according to VesselsValue. It was reportedly sold this month for $58 million-plus — around four times the purchase price — according to Compass.
MP The Law — Named after Ty Law, a cornerback with the Patriots from 1995-2005. Built 2009, 4,330 TEUs. Bought by Mangrove in October 2018 from Greece’s Dioryx Maritime for $15.2 million, according to VesselsValue. It was reportedly sold this month for $58 million-plus — around four times the purchase price — to an unspecified buyer, according to Compass.
Mangrove has one more container ship left that brokers have yet to report being sold: the 2009-built, 4,360-TEU MP The Brown (assumedly named after former wide receiver Troy Brown).
Meanwhile, it’s not only container shipping that’s booming: Dry bulk shipping is having its best year in over a decade. And Mangrove also owns dry bulk ships: six large 208,000-deadweight-ton Newcastlemax-class bulkers built in 2020 and 2021 that it ordered from Chinese yards.
Mangrove’s Chinese-built bulkers are also named after Patriots: the MP The Bruschi (linebacker Tedy Bruschi), MP The Kraft (Pats owner Robert Kraft), MP The Hightower (linebacker Dont’a Hightower), MP The Vrabel (linebacker Mike Vrabel, now the head coach of the Tennessee Titans), MP The Harrison (safety Rodney Harrison) and the MP The Vinatieri (kicker Adam Vinatieri).
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