Oil tanker market surge lifts returns for hedge fund Svelland Capital

LONDON (Reuters) - London based hedge fund Svelland Capital posted one of its best returns in March helped by oil price turmoil and a record rally on tanker markets with prospects likely to stay positive in coming weeks, the fund said on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he had brokered a deal with top crude producers Russia and Saudi Arabia to cut output and arrest an oil market rout amid the global coronavirus pandemic, though details of how cuts would work were unclear.

Russia and Saudi Arabia have been at odds since early March, when they failed to agree on a deal curbing output as the coronavirus spread around the globe, leading to a glut of oil.

Tanker rates have soared to record levels of more than $250,000 a day in recent weeks, with traders snapping up vessels to store as much as 80 million barrels of unsold crude at sea.

Svelland Capital, one of the few hedge fund players active in shipping markets, posted a gain of 24.86% in their main fund in March, bolstered by positions taken on freight derivatives contracts (FFAs), which allow investors to take positions on freight rates at a point in the future.

This compared with a gain of 3.1% in February.

“The money in March was made on FFAs, shorts on Brent and shorts on the S&P (500 stock) index,” Tor Svelland, the fund’s chief investment officer, told Reuters.

“We also made money on single short stocks. In addition, being long on tanker equities and some renewables (stocks) made money. The longs on FFAs paid off.”

Saudi Arabia, the de facto head of OPEC, called on Thursday for an emergency meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, state media reported, saying it aimed to reach a fair agreement to stabilise oil markets.

“If the cut is not happening immediately, the demand for tankers will persist for another couple of months,” Svelland said.

“Because of the oil demand destruction, millions of barrels are going into floating storage and if we see more tankers being taken out of the market, that will also have an impact.”

The two funds and managed account run by Svelland Capital have a combined market value of $50 million and existing investors come from family offices in London, Athens, Geneva and Hong Kong.

Editing by Kirsten Donovan