FRANKFURT Buyout group Apollo and German shipping group Rickmers are buying used ships, five months after setting up a joint venture for the purpose, another sign that private equity interest in the sector is picking up.
The venture, targeting a total investment of up to $500 million, bought six container vessels for $176 million from Germany's second-largest container shipping group Hamburg Sued, they said on Tuesday.
The joint venture will lease the refrigerated ships back to Hamburg Sued for three years.
Forecasts of a pickup in world trade after the worst slide in decades sent some major shipping firms into bankruptcy, are spurring interest from buyout groups and hedge funds.
With asset values expected to rise as confidence returns, buyers are picking up second-hand vessels aiming to sell them as the assets appreciate.
Last year, Danish shipping group Torm TORM.CO sold four tankers to private equity group Oaktree (OAK.N) and investor York Capital Management set up a joint venture with shipping group Augustea Atlantica and agribusiness group Bunge that will also invest in ships.
(Reporting by Arno Schuetze)