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Shipping IPOs Ready to Embark

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- About half a decade after the first maritime shipping concerns sold shares to the public on U.S. stock exchanges, another fleet of IPOs is preparing to set sail into the capital markets of New York.

Kicking it off on Wednesday is the expected pricing of two new issues -- an owner of dry-bulk vessels called Baltic Trading and an oil-tanker outfit called, straight-forwardly enough, Crude Carriers.

Both names have established provenances. Baltic, which will trade under the symbol BALT, was formed by Peter Georgiopoulos, the impresario behind the tanker operator General Maritime (GMR) (the first shipping company to go public on the New York Stock Exchange, back in 2001), as well as the dry-bulk ship owner Genco Shipping & Trading (GNK - Get Report) and the ship-fuel transporter Aegean Marine (ANW - Get Report).

Crude Carriers, which will trade under the ticker CRU, was formed by Capital Maritime & Trading, a privately held Greek company that owns and manages tankers as well as dry-bulk carriers. Capital Maritime is the baby of Evangelos Marinkais, who also took public Capital Product Partners (CPLP - Get Report) in 2007 on Nasdaq. Capital Product owns 19 of the kind of tankers that carry wet cargoes other than petroleum, known in the industry as "product tankers."

Yet another shipper filed a prospectus in February: Scorpio, an Italian shipping group, hopes to float shares of its fleet of three Panamax chemical tankers under the name Scorpio Tankers.

Some observers have wondered at the timing of this latest IPO push. The first wave occurred during boom times, when global trade was brisk and shipping rates high. Not so in early 2010; only a year ago, the marine transport business had fallen to its lowest ebb in decades. Rates cratered and share prices in the sector have yet to recover.

The second item on Baltic's list of risk factors makes note of this: charter rates for drybulk carriers "are currently at relatively low levels as compared to recent historical levels and may further decrease in the future."

Meanwhile, much of the industry remains concerned about potential oversupply, with hundreds of new ships -- ordered pre-crisis when companies were flush -- scheduled for delivery this year and next.

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