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mentality. I really love it, even on difficult days. A good fixture out of South America requires double the effort as the rest of the world – but you can turn up a perfect agreement that makes all the effort worth while.”

Setting sail 16

Patsadas is the first to admit that Brazil was not part of his career plan, which originally saw him make the hard choice between being in tourism or shipbroking. “I’m Greek, so I guess shipping was in my blood a bit more. But some days I wish I had pursued my hobby of being a musician so that I could tour the world, playing my bass guitar in exchange for accommoda- tion and drinks,” he says, adding that his busy schedule now leaves him little time for music. The heavy lift expert, who has an MSc in international trade and transport from the London Metropolitan University, secured his first shipping job as a containership broker through his PHD supervisor who recom- mended him to an ex-student. Patsadas worked at 3A Marine Group for a year, including a stint at the company’s Hamburg branch, which hosted its heavy lift section. He enjoyed his work so much that he asked to be transferred to the port city. “I had the chance to be part of the whole chain from operations to post fixture, where I got to see all the documentation, including stowage plans and bills of lading. In London you are quite removed from the actual tangible aspect, while this was a chance to be closer to the heart of the business,” he explains. This sentiment was the reason that his next

career move (to the Panamax desk at Maersk Broking) lasted only a few months before he returned to in-house heavy lift broking, this time for the now defunct Beluga Shipping.

Whale of a time

Patsadas moved back to Bremen in March 2009 to work as an operations manager at Beluga Shipping’s waterside headquarters. This is where his love affair with Brazil began as the Greek national was selected to remotely head up the South American operations division. “I supervised a team of five people until

December 2010 and then was promoted to chartering manger for South America,” he says. Patsadas was employed by the company at the time of the scandal, which created headlines when authorities stormed the building to make arrests. Readers familiar with Beluga Shipping


Out of the collapse of Beluga Shipping, new company Hansa Heavy Lift emerged with a fleet

of 21 vessels – but chartering them was not always easy

may be aware that the heavy lift owner and operator declared insolvency in March 2011 and then CEO Niels Stolberg is currently facing charges for ¤93 million worth of credit fraud, which could result in imprisonment. Bremen prosecutors have accused Stolberg and a separate Dutch company of defrauding financial institutions by significantly overstat- ing newbuilding costs (the case is ongoing at time of press). The Bremen-based company is also accused of manipulating its accounts between 2006-2010 to show false profitability. In 2010 investor company Oaktree Capital Management acquired a shareholding of close to 50% of the company, spurring due diligence investigations that shone a spotlight on the financial irregularities and led to the heavy lift operator’s collapse. It is likely that without Oaktree’s involvement the financial issues would have stayed hidden for much longer, particularly given that the peculiarities of shipping operations make the sector opaque to outsiders. However, given higher incidences of private equity investment in shipping, this may be poised to change – see box on the changing face of ship finance. While many of Beluga’s employees were

left at the mercy of market forces, Patsadas was one of the fortunate few chosen by Oaktree for its new venture. Named Hansa Heavy Lift and headquartered in Hamburg, the company took on a section of the Beluga fleet for its new entity. The broker is reluctant to divulge too much

information about the inner working at Beluga at the time that it went bankrupt, but says that while he suspected that the market was difficult, he and the other employees “had no idea of the scope of the situation”. It is noteworthy that until the arrests were

made, Beluga was perceived to have been doing extremely well, particularly as it was making large investments in fleet expansion, a flashy new office and had expanded its staff.

Heavy responsibility

The first few months at the new company were fraught as Oaktree officials were limited in the amount of information they could share because of the ongoing investigations. “For about three months we were relying on verbal assurances regarding the formation of the new company. It was quite disquieting,” he recalls. The situation was further complicated as some of the Hansa vessels had liens against them for outstanding payments by Beluga, meaning that chartering them out was a lengthy and complicated process. In the end, the company emerged with a fleet of 21 vessels – and Patsadas was allocated the position of chartering manager, responsible for reposi- tioning vessels from South America towards profitable markets that had high-value cargoes. In July 2012 the chartering manager made

another career jump – which coincided with a geographical move. “I moved to Naestved, Denmark, and took up a position as operations and chartering manager (still with a focus on the South American market) for Scantrans, which later merged with Intermarine,” he says. “As it turns out, my South American experience was highly sought after as Petrobras was growing aggressively and

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