Lloyd's List - Neptune buys Vroon car carrier duo

Expanding Greek operator expects to transport more than 1m units for the first time this year

by Nigel Lowry

NEPTUNE Lines, the Mediterranean car carrier specialist, has acquired two modern pure car and truck carriers from Dutch owner Vroon.

The vessels are the Magny Cours Express and Imola Express, both built by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

The pair will be renamed Neptune Hellas and Neptune Horizon respectively.

With capacity for 3,700 cars each, they are among the largest vessels in the Neptune-owned fleet, which has now reached 15 units. They are near-sister vessels to the six Neptune PCTC vessels constructed in Hyundai Mipo during the past five years.

The duo has been previously chartered-in by Greece-based Neptune. However, it is understood that the acquisitions were not pursuant to any purchase option in the charter agreements.

There was no immediate confirmation of the price agreed for the deal.

The Melina Travlos-led company has steadily been acquiring larger vessels for its network which covers calls at more than 30 ports in almost 20 countries in the Mediterranean, as far east as the Black Sea.

Last year, the Greece-based operator took delivery of its own ordered 3,700-car PCTC vessels Neptune Galene and Neptune Thalassa from Hyundai Mipo.

Neptune has previously identified a need for 17 vessels in its operation — which is the size of the fleet being operated by the company now.

As well as the owned fleet, these include the Vroon-owned 3,700-car capacity Le Mans Express, another sistership of the two vessels being acquired, and the 2,000-car capacity City of Oslo, chartered-in from Norwegian owner PD Gram & Co.

Additional vessels, including the MOL-operated Nordic Ace, are chartered-in as required from the spot market. However, the company’s business is growing at a fast pace and it is projecting that it will carry more than 1m vehicles for the first time this year.

In 2014, Neptune transported a record total of 905,000 units, a leap of about 100,000 units compared to the previous year. 

A company spokesman told Lloyd’s List: “Neptune Lines is currently exploring possibilities to expand its trade in niche markets and other areas of interest.”

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