Hitting the Slopes: Swiss Ski Hub is Home Port for Billionaire-Backed Shipping Firm

bulk ship
Photo: Lukasz Z / Shutterstock

By Andy Hoffman (Bloomberg) — Peter Weernink, the former head of a shipping line that counts Glencore Plc as its biggest shareholder, has started a new dry bulk operator from one of Switzerland’s most exclusive Alpine resorts.

Singapore Marine Ltd. will have an office in Verbier, the Swiss village where Weernink resides, alongside British royals and celebrities such as singer James Blunt. The firm has raised $105 million including the purchase of a 15 percent stake by Golden Ocean Group Ltd., another dry bulk shipper that’s indirectly owned by Norway-born shipping magnate John Fredriksen.

“We started this new venture because we believe that we can build a large and successful company in this space,” Weernink said in an emailed response to questions.

Weernink is an industry veteran who spent 11 years with Cargill Inc. before co-founding SwissMarine in 2001 with a group of former traders from the U.S. agri-giant. Last year he left Bermuda-based SwissMarine, which owns a fleet of vessels and has handled annual volumes of about 130 million tons.

“I left SwissMarine because I felt I could no longer take that company, with its existing shareholder base, forward,” Weernink said.

Rapid Buildup

The new firm will also have operations in Geneva and Singapore as well as a representative office in Tokyo. Weernink, who has invested his own capital in the new venture and will be the biggest shareholder, said Singapore Marine doesn’t anticipate acquiring vessels in the first few years.

“We have started with five ex-SwissMarine employees and will build out the team fairly rapidly over the next few months,” he said.

Golden Ocean’s investment includes $10 million in equity and a $10 million subordinated shareholder loan. Thomas Semino, chief commercial officer of Golden Ocean, is joining Singapore Marine’s board.

Singapore Marine will operate independently from Golden Ocean, whose participation in the company is primarily financial, Semino said in a statement. “Golden Ocean’s significant commercial capabilities and the depth of its market intelligence will be further enhanced by this new relationship,” he said.

Weernink said Singapore Marine has also attracted backing from companies including Ionic Shipping, the Martinos family’s Thenamaris, and former Glencore executive Angus Paul’s and JM Radziwill’s Goodbulk Ltd. Other investors include Will Snellings’s Marianas Fund Management LLC and the Veniamis family’s Golden Union Shipping Company SA.

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