Greece’s Atlas Maritime reveals strategy in savvy $1bn push for steel

Macquarie and Fortress Investment emerge as partners of Greek shipowner Leon Patitsas

Hot on the heels of a hugely successful investment in five aframax newbuildings, Greece’s Atlas Maritime has returned to South Korea to strike deals that bring its total investment in shipping steel since 2020 to a dozen vessels worth more than $1bn.

In an interview in his Athens office, Atlas founder and chief executive Leon Patitsas confirmed an order at DH Shipbuilding for a quartet of 114,940-dwt dual-fuel LNG-ready, scrubber-fitted LR2 tankers.

As with the five aframaxes that preceded them, Atlas moved far ahead of the curve in contracting the newbuildings.

Market sources believe the Greek owner spent at least $64m on each of the latest-design vessels — ordered since last summer and due for delivery between October 2024 and April 2025.

Patitsas declined to comment on their price but left little doubt about the way he sees their value heading.

“They’re already in the money … if they were in the water today, they would be worth close to $80m,” he said.

The grandson of legendary Greek owner Leon Lemos has displayed ample skills in ordering newbuildings at the right time and then cashing in on them through resale deals or lucrative long-term charters.

As TradeWinds reported previously, Patitsas has already flipped — at a huge markup — four of the five aframaxes he ordered at DH Shipbuilding in late 2020, at a 20-year trough of the tanker market.

The fifth sistership in that series — the 115,600-dwt Freeport Star (built 2023) — has been recently tied to a one-year charter with oil major BP at $50,000 per day.

“When the market peaks, we have the discipline to sell,” Patitsas said.

“We’re not here just to keep assets forever and scrap them — we’re here to be opportunistic and take advantage of rising markets.”

Marc Hari, head of Macquarie’s ship-finance business, says Atlas was its first client. Photo: Macquarie

That strategy, which saw the Greek company profitably offloading nine tankers and one bulker since 2019, has handsomely rewarded the Greek owner and employees in the company he founded 20 years ago.

Inspired by his grandfather, Patitsas has instituted a share participation scheme under which Atlas invites employees to own part of the company and its fleet.

This makes staff “dedicated, loyal and fully aligned with the company’s vision,” Patitsas said.

An average return on equity of 120% on its 10 recent ship sales has won the Greek owner quite a few friends in the ship-finance community as well.

Jonathan Atkeson, managing director of Fortress Investment Group in an email, said: “Fortress has enjoyed an excellent partnership with Leon Patitsas and Atlas Maritime.”

The New York-based investment manager of $45.7bn-worth of assets has emerged as a co-investor in one of the tankers Atlas sold recently.

“Our investment with Atlas produced excellent returns as a result of the disciplined investment approach, expertise and hard work of the Atlas management team,” Atkeson said.

Sanguine partners

In another statement sent to TradeWinds, Australian lender Macquarie reveals that an Atlas vessel was its first ship-finance deal back in 2017. Macquarie has since helped finance several Atlas’ aframax newbuildings and will continue to fund the company’s expansion in the future.

“Over the years, we have enjoyed a very close relationship with Atlas and value them as a very professional, open and proactive client,” Macquarie head of shipping Marc Hari said.

“We are very pleased to have contributed to Atlas’ success story and we look forward to continuing to support Atlas’ growth plans across the tanker and car carrier segments.”

The car carriers refer to a trio of LNG dual-fuel ready, 7,000-ceu pure car/truck carrier newbuildings that Atlas ordered last year at China’s CIMC Raffles Offshore and which are due for delivery between September 2024 and March 2026.

Car carriers, into which Atlas has reinvested part of its tanker asset play profits, are a new business for the company that Patitsas founded 20 years ago.

Nevertheless, the organisation plans to manage its new assets in-house, just as it has done with all of its other ships.

Atlas’s technical manager has over 10 years of experience in the field, having worked before for Ray Car Carriers and its technical manager Stamco Ship Management.

“We like the fundamentals of the sector and have already been approached to fix the car carriers on long-term contracts with reputable charterers,” Patitsas said.

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Mirannia Petrocheilou

PURCHASING MANAGER

Mirannia joined Atlas in July 2014 as Purchasing Manager. Prior to joining the company she held various positions of increasing responsibility giving her the qualifications and skills of leading and executing purchasing strategies She holds an MBA from University of Leicester, UK and she is a graduate of Maritime Studies at the University of Piraeus. She is responsible for sourcing, negotiating and purchasing of goods, materials and services to meet the ship’s and company’s budget and operational requirements. As a purchasing Manager she has to create sustainable supply chains having efficient suppliers with consistent steady business that secures highest quality of products and services. Her professional approach ensures that value for money is maximized and cost savings are generated.

Katerina Chrisovergis

ACCOUNTING MANAGER

Katerina joined Atlas in July 2014 as Accounting Manager. She was introduced to the shipping industry in 2000 when she moved to Greece from Canada. She held the position of D/A controller for clients like Chevron, Exmar and Tankers Int’l at Gulf Agency Company, a leading global provider of shipping & marine services. When GAC relocated its headquarters to Dubai in 2003, she worked as Chief Accountant for a shipowning company with 6 vessels. For the last five years, she worked for the Bernhard Schulte Group as Chief Accountant at Bernhard Schulte-Hellas, manager of the Hanseatic Tankers Pool with a fleet of 12 chemical tankers and at Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement Greece manager of 40 vessels. She holds a BCom in Accounting from Concordia University in Montreal and has completed post graduate studies in Accountancy at McGill University.

Aris Mavris

CREW MANAGER

Capt. Aris joined Atlas Maritime Ltd in September 2007. He holds a Class B’ Captain license and has obtained a Certificate in Shipping & International Trade and Sea Transport from B.C.A. College (1993) as well as holds an MBA, Master of Shipping, Trade and Transport from the University of Aegean (2002). From 1993 to 1999, he worked for Celebrity Cruises Inc., Miami, Florida. He has held several Marine positions at various shipping companies prior joining Atlas Maritime.

Penelope Kallidoni

HQE MANAGER

Penny joined Atlas in 2009 as ISM/ISO Coordinator. Prior to joining Atlas, she has served as the Operations & Commercial Assistant in a NASDAQ listed shipping company for four years. Experienced in ISO, ISM, and ISPS, MLC & TMSA audits, responsible for Collecting and analyzing HSEQ performance and reporting progress on the implementation of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Monitors safety on a daily basis through past and projected indicators, ensuring that all regulations are being followed in the company. She holds a BSc in Sociology from Panteion University of Athens.

Chris Ioannou

TECHNICAL MANAGER

Chris joined Atlas Maritime Ltd in 2020 as Technical Manager. He holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from University of Houston in Texas. Prior to joining the company he has held various senior engineering positions in the technical department of shipping companies. He was also the project & site manager of the owners’ supervision teams for numerous new-building projects in Europe & Asia including high technology, high efficiency, ECO design product & chemical tankers. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers [ASME].

Basil Dimakakos

COMMERCIAL / OPERATIONS MANAGER

Capt. Basil joined Atlas Maritime Ltd in December 2012 and on 2016 he assumed the responsibility to run Atlas’ Commercial Operations. He is the company’s primary contact, and reports directly to the CEO, for all matters related to S&P and time charter and spot fixtures, while he also monitors the daily vessels’ movement and expenditures. Prior to joining the Company, he worked in Singapore as the General Manager for a commodities trading company and before that, he worked in senior positions in Ship Management companies, mainly in the tanker and and dry cargo sectors, for 20 years. He is a qualified Captain Class A for all type of commercial vessels of unlimited size. His has sea-going experience of more than 12 years, onboard oil tankers, mainly ULCC, VLCC and Aframaxes. He holds MSc degree for Maritime Operations from John Moores University of Liverpool and MBA from Phoenix (Arizona) University

Christos Zenios

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Christos Zenios joined Atlas as the Financial Manager in 2007; he stepped up to the VP-Finance position in 2011 which he held until the end of 2013, when he was entrusted with the CFO role. Since joining Atlas, he has been responsible for modeling and analyzing financial deals for the company, mitigating financial risks, as well as developing and maintaining relationships with Credit and Investment Banks in relation to the capital structure of the company. Additionally, he oversees the Accounting team and works closely with our auditors to ensure the company meets its reporting requirements in a timely and accurate manner. Prior to joining Atlas, he worked for over 5 years in the Banking Sector, where he served as a Senior Credit Officer in the Corporate Banking & Leasing divisions of well established financial institutions in Greece (Piraeus Bank and Bank of Cyprus). He holds an M.Sc. in Finance from the University of Strathclyde (2005), and a BSc degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Wales, Cardiff (1997).

Leon Patitsas​

FOUNDER & CEO

Leon founded the company in 2004 and is the Chief Executive officer of Atlas Maritime. He has concluded over $ 1 billion in total transactions (acquisitions and sales) throughout his career. With over 20 years of experience in shipping, he has focused on buying assets at attractive entry points/distressed levels. He has a strong track record in profitably employing the assets and has secured time charter contracts (revenues) of over $500 million, with oil companies (oil majors) and traders. 

He subsequently sold the assets profitably, at the peak of the cycle and successfully produced stellar returns. Prior to founding Atlas Maritime, he gained extensive experience in sales and purchase (acquisitions), chartering, and ship financing, working for renowned Ship-owners in New York, London and Athens.

Leon began his career in New York, working for an investment bank that invested in Hedge Funds and Private Equity. Having extensive knowledge in the capital markets has enabled Atlas to successfully conclude JV’s with major Private Equity firms, in NY and London. Leon is on the board of directors of Concord Maritime, a Commercial Manager, based in Stamford, CT, operating crude tanker pools. He also serves on the Board of directors of the American Club (P&I Club) and is a Council member of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO). 

Leon was born in London and studied in the United States. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a Master’s of Science and earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University.