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Shipping IPOs Ready to Embark

Baltic, based with Georgiopoulos' other companies in New York though incorporated in the shipping tax haven of the Marshall Islands, will offer 16.3 million shares at $14 to $16 apiece, with an over-allotment option of about 2.4 million shares. The company thus hopes to raise about $300 million. Baltic's lead bankers on the deal are Morgan Stanley (MS) and the boutique firm Dahlman Rose. Georgiopoulos has been traveling for the better part of the last two weeks, conducting the Baltic road show.

Baltic's business model is simple: All of its ships (of which, as of yet, none are in the water) will operate on the spot the market -- or have full exposure to it through the kinds of long-term charters that track moves in spot-market shipping rates. DryShips (DRYS - Get Report) started life in the public markets similarly, as a near-pure-play spot-market shipping stock.

In some ways, then, Baltic is less a company than a wagering vehicle with which investors can play the spot market and the volatile fluctuations that characterize short-term ocean-going dry-cargo freight rates. Genco's management will serve as Baltic's management and fleet administrator -- with Baltic paying its parent company a fee for the privilege. Baltic does intend, however, to distribute all of its net income to shareholders via a quarterly dividend.

As for its initial fleet, Baltic will use proceeds from the offering to buy four Supramax and two Capesize vessels. It won't take on any long-term debt to make the purchases, according to its prospectus; one of the company's aims is to keep leverage low, a lesson perhaps learned during the financial crisis, when many shipping concerns used cheap credit to aggressively expand their fleets, only to see those loans go underwater.

Baltic's ships -- all newbuildings -- are scheduled for delivery in April, except one of the Capesizes, which will hit the water in October.

Crude Carriers, meanwhile, hopes to sell 13.5 million shares for $19 to $21 each, raising as much as $310.5 million. The Piraeus, Greece-based company, also incorporated in the Marshall Islands, will buy three ships from its parent company -- one Suezmax and two very-large crude carriers, or VLCCs -- which will constitute Crude's initial fleet.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York


Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.
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