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Mehrotra exits reefer market

Mehrotra exits reefer market

London: Sale of the 10-ship Amer Reefers fleet marks the end of Indian-born Ravi Mehrotra's (pictured) involvement in the global trade in fresh produce. The diverse fleet, which, is believed to have sold for about $130m, has been divided between lead buyer, Antwerp-based Seatrade - the world's largest operator of reefer ships, Laskaridis' Lavinia Corp and Russian interests who are keen to expand in refrigerated cargo shipping as dometic demand for fresh produce continues to spiral.

Seatrade had looked over the Amer fleet last year and three Mehrotra ships were employed in the Seatrade pool. However, negotiations are understood to have broken down when Mehrotra refused to accept less than $140m

The Amer fleet sale comes at an interesting time. Recent contracts for new ships ordered in Japan add to Star Reefers' foray into the specialised reefer newbuilding market. There are now 16 specialised reefers on order, a tiny proportion of today's ageing fleet.

But cargo volumes are rising and new trades in perishable products are evolving all the time. A substantial number of elderly vessels cannot compete with fuel-efficient modern units. The year to date has seen a mass clear-out of old reefer ships, with some 25 units sold so far,  and more negotiating. Prevailing prices for reefer tonnage lie in the mid $700s per ldt, brokers say.  [07/08/08]