Navios Partners Ship Released by Pirates

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Somali pirates released a dry-bulk cargo ship owned by Navios Maritime Partners (NMM) on Saturday after holding the ship and its crew hostage for about 60 days.

Navios, which announced the release on Monday, presumably paid a ransom, but because shippers are typically tight-lipped on the subject, for fear of emboldening pirates, Navios made no mention of it in its release. The company couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Ransom payments to Somali gangs have steadily increased since attacks in the region first exploded in frequency about three years ago, causing much consternation in the shipping industry. In January, the Greek owner of a supertanker, the Maran Centaurus, paid a reported $5 million for the ship's release.

Navios' ship, the handymax-size Apollon, had a crew of 18 or 19 and was carrying a load of Mosaic ( MOS)-produced phosphate fertilizer between Tampa, Fla., and India when it was attacked and taken by pirates on Dec. 28. The ship was sailing in the Indian Ocean near the Seychelles island chain, some 1,000 miles from the Somali coast.

Navios Maritime Partners, the sibling company of Navios Maritime Holdings, said the Chinese ambassador to Greece played a key role in the ship's "release process." A Chinese warship escorted the Apollon after the pirates left the vessel, but Navios wasn't more specific about how the ambassador may have assisted.

Shares of Navios Maritime Partners ended trading Monday at $15.75, up 2 cents.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, 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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