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Shipping and wine make the perfect cocktail at EBE

Time:2018-09-13 13:23wine - Red wine life health Click:

Make Perfect cocktail Wine Shipping

Basile Aloy finds the living is easy after buying ships at the trough of the market. But he’s not resting on his laurels. Here he talks about sustainability, diversification and the advantages of being a member of the Saverys clan

Basile Aloy is enjoying life since returning to Belgium. He can tell you the best place to view the Antwerp skyline on a summer’s evening and where to go to get a decent plate of moules-frites.

And, not surprisingly for someone who has named his shipping company after a goddess of wine, he will also recommend the best wines to drink.

For Aloy — whose family runs the Avignonesi vineyard in Tuscany — knows a thing or two about wine. He could have made it his career, having studied winemaking and viticulture in Bordeaux.

Instead, the 30-year-old has opted to make his way in the shipping business. As part of the seventh generation of the Saverys clan, that appears to have been his destiny.

Today, Aloy works out of a 19th-century building that his family owns in a district to the south of Antwerp close to where he grew up. It’s where he feels most at home.

“I feel quite happy in my provincial little town of Antwerp. The quality of life here is fantastic. When I left the winery, I was 26 and I was living in the countryside, and it was not something for me.”

Aloy got serious about a career in shipping four years ago when he began working as a shipbroker in Switzerland. Even now, he confesses to missing the adrenalin rush of fixing a ship.

In early 2016, he established his family’s own shipowning operation, EBE, named after the Greek goddess of wine (Ebe, the daughter of Zeus and Hera, was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she settled down to become Mrs Hercules).

Today, EBE is sitting pretty. It owns a fleet of six debt-free bulkers mostly acquired at the trough of the market.

Four of the vessels — a capesize, a kamsarmax and two ultramaxes — are on the water. Two more are to be delivered from Oshima Shipbuilding in Japan next year.

“We are in a luxurious position,” Aloy tells TW+. “We’ve had two years with almost no issues.”

That is good news for the family holding company Victrix, headed by his mother, Virginie Saverys. Victrix also has a significant stake in Euronav, although it recently slipped below 5%. Aloy says his family backs the Euronav management and regards its acquisitions of other tanker companies, including Gener8 Maritime, as a smart move.

“We also believe tanker hire rates will go up, maybe not now, but it will happen,” he says. “One thing you should have in shipping is patience.”

EBE, Euronav and Avignonesi are the pillars of “a real family business”, he adds.

His sister, Eline Aloy, manages the wine business from the same building, overseeing the management of wine bars in London and Antwerp. Her latest creation is a wine label called Ventisei (Italian for “26”) making young organic wines with grapes from Avignonesi.

Shipping accounts for just half of the family assets, and there are no plans to increase that proportion in its portfolio. Instead, the family is examining diversification in other areas.

“We are looking at investment in sustainable ecological projects as a hedge for the shipping and tanker industry,” Aloy says.

That is typified by the recent acquisition of a shareholding in Turbulent, a Belgian start-up that operates micro-hydropower plants.

“It’s not really on the worldwide radar, but we think it’s interesting to diversify. Both my mother, my sister and myself have a strong feeling we have to do something in the 21st century.

“Our winery is fully organic, fully biodynamic. We’re trying to do everything we can to reduce CO2 exhaust at the winery.”

Aloy argues that a similarly radical approach to emissions has to be taken by the shipping industry.

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