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Shipping’s matchmaker

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Smiling faces... Nicholas Bornozis; and why not!

Capital Link’s Nicolas Bornozis brings together investors and owners

Nicolas Bornozis’ office sits high above Grand Central Station in NewYork, hub of the city’s transport network; the location is apt, given his position at the centre of the city’s publicly-listed shipping scene.

The maritime industry represents a great proportion of work for his company, Capital Link. It handles investor relations for almost half the maritime companies listed on the NewYork Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Exchange, and for others in London.

Mr Bornozis’ company organises eight forums a year —four in NewYork and two in London and Athens—and webinars that aim to get investors in front of shipping companies.

With so much talk in the Finance market about how the shipping industry desperately needs cash to get through the down turn, Mr. Bornozis is at the epicentre of activity. He has seen his business branch out beyond publicly-listed companies to private shipowners.

With the chartering and second hand markets looking to have reached the bottom of the latest cycle, private investors see great upside potential.

Mr Bornozis is helping to match funds with companies that are looking for financial support.

A glance over his CV reveals his solid experience in banking and shipping. He graduated from the University of Athens with a law degree in 1979, then moved to the US and gained an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1982.

He stayed in NewYork, joining the International Department of Bankers Trust Company for a couple of years, then moved to the commercial banking operations of Crédit Commercial de France—now part ofHSBC—where he focused on financing Wall Street companies and the shipping sector.

In 1988, he was appointed president and chief executive of CCF International Finance. He left in 1996 to launch Capital Link, which handles investor relations for companies from many industries.

Although it took 10 years for the company to move significantly into shipping, Mr. Bornozis kept close ties with the maritime industry.

It was the financial boom that saw the capital markets open significantly to shipping.

In 2005, George Economou became Mr Bornozis’ first shipowning  client when DryShips made an initial public offering on the new York Nasdaq Exchange. “We knew if we did a good job we would get more clients, ” Mr Bornozis tells Lloyd’s List.

The DryShips IPO marked the beginning of a wave of public listings. Having done a good job with Mr Economou’s investor relations, Capital Link gained shipping clients. It now represents around half the 45 listed shipping companies in NewYork.

In other industries, it is difficult for one investor relations company to gain dominance. Although he admits to having been particularly lucky considering this, Mr Bornozis says Capital Link’s biggest asset “is having an amazing information flow to investors and the media”.

It has become a centralised provider of information for the sector through the company Team and through its webinars, website and forums.

“Most investor relations firms don’t build in-depth knowledge, talk to investors or systemise information to the extent we do, ” Mr Bornozis says. “We have also built one of the most extensive and updated databases of investors that follow the space.”

That is one reason why Capital Link received the Piraeus International Centre Award at Lloyd’s List’s Greek Awards in December 2011, marking outstanding service to the Greek shipping industry.

Just last month, Intercontinental Finance Magazine named Capital Link the premier international shipping and maritime investor relations forum for North America and Europe.

However, with a lack of financial appetite in the public markets and shipping stocks doing particularly poorly compared to other industries, due to huge over capacity, what lies ahead for the industry?

“The US remains the largest pool of capital for shipping  companies with the largest number of listed companies, analysts, investors and media following the sector. And, given the cyclicality of the shipping business, appetite for shipping stocks is bound to return, ” Mr. Bornozis says.

“Shipping is a global business and US investors can buy shipping stocks anywhere, as long as they are aware of the quality and opportunities that specific companies represent.

Actually, inmost cases, non US-listed shipping companies tend to trade at lower valuations that their US peers. “Therefore non US-listed companies in Scandinavia, Singapore and the Far East can benefit by making themselves better known among US investors. This is a growth opportunity for Capital Link, given our access to the wider US investment community.”

Access to finance is set to remain the hot topic for the industry. An investor looking for the right opportunity could do worse than turn to Mr Bornozis at Capital Link.

(source: Capital Link)

Note: This piece of news was published in Lloyd’s List under Profile on the 3rd of April 2012 and written by Liz McCarthy.

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