New Cyprus funds aims to cash in on IPO fever
March 21, 2005 at 5:10 PM

CC Bulk Carriers Investors Ltd (CCBCI), a Cyprus-registered investment fund, is hoping to take advantage of the current fever for US listings of shipping companies by matchmaking existing US-listed shell corporations with Greek shipping companies.

Konstantinos Chryssoulis, chief executive of CCBCI, says he has signed agreements with two US listed companies that will allow a number of medium-size Greek outfits to go public through a reverse-merger process.

Chryssoulis says one of the companies is listed on the Nasdaq exchange and the other on the American Stock Exchange.

The Nasdaq-listed blank-cheque company, incorporated in Delaware, was set up in 2004, Chryssoulis says, while the other has been traded on the American Stock Exchange for the past seven years and "would entertain a merger with a private company with at least $50m in net worth". Both are inactive companies with no assets or liabilities. Chryssoulis declines to name them.

Meanwhile, he says he is in discussions with five different Greek shipping companies, all in the dry sector. Most have between four and six vessels, although one controls 10 ships. Their tonnage is of medium size and "rather older", Chryssoulis says. All of them are run by younger-generation Greeks who are aware of the intricacies of the US capital markets, he adds.

"I imagine one of these will go ahead. There are two cases now," Chryssoulis said, adding: "It's early stages yet but they are developing rather well."

CCBCI was founded in 2002 with the aim of investing in bulk carriers as an asset player. In the summer of that year, it bought two handysizes and resold them in December the same year. Chryssoulis says the investors in the ships decided to sell after realising that they would make a 30% profit over the six months but he laments the fact that the ships were sold before the shipping boom really got started.

Since then, Chryssoulis says no further investments have been made. "We have tried to get involved in a couple of deals but they have not materialised," he said.

However, he adds that he has been busy as managing director of the representative office of the Commonwealth of Dominica's ship registry in Greece, as well as heading up a management-consulting firm, International Ship Registries (Worldwide), which he says acts as agent for more than 20 ship registries. These include flags such as Belize, Cambodia, Comoros, Mongolia and Vanuatu, as well as more mainstream registries such as Cyprus, Malta and Panama.

By Gillian Whittaker, Athens

published: 18 March 2005