Timeline of select, salient Team and Company milestones:
1978: Michael Hudner (NYC) and Arvid Bergvall Jr. (Oslo) created Bergvall+Hudner Company
1979: B+H conceived and organized the first US limited partnership for foreign-flagged vessels
1981: Established Commodity Ocean Transport Corporation (COTCO), a handysize dry bulk carrier pool eventually totaling 33 B+H-controlled ships
1987-89: Organized three distressed shipping asset funds exploiting a once-in-a-generation shipping market break. These projects (totaling $125M in equity and underwritten by Merrill Lynch, Salomon Bros., Furman Selz, and Mabon Nugent) are a near-perfect analog for today’s opportunity as the shipping market has not been so ripe for investment since the 1980s
1988: B+H purchased the 19-vessel Canadian Pacific fleet, including six MR product tankers and 13 bulk carriers
1988: Established Product Transport Corporation (PROTRANS) as the commercial manager of B+H's product tanker business, eventually comprising 20 ships on the water
1989: Purchased the Marathon Oil crude carrier fleet
1991: B+H Bulk Carriers Ltd. completed full return of shareholder capital from distributions and converted to a growth-oriented shipowning business
1995: B+H Ocean Carriers Ltd. and B+H Maritime Carriers Ltd. voted to allow reinvesting for growth
1997: B+H became the first shipowner to issue a single-B rated $125M bond offering in the US, managed by Jefferies & Co. and Credit Suisse First Boston
1999: Purchased six MR product tankers from Chevron in a deeply depressed market post-1997 Asian Financial Crisis These ships, acquired in a comparably low market, earned cash proceeds equivalent to over 3x their purchase price
2004: Developed an around-the-world product trade built on contracts for palm oil from SE Asia to Europe and soft oils from South America to India and China
2005-7: B+H undertook the ambitious conversion of three single-hull product tankers into dry bulk carriers, adding net $20M-25M value to the vessels
2008: Global financial collapse led to four near-simultaneous counterparty defaults on dry bulk carriers (both vessel sales and long-term time charters), which severely impacted the Group's liquidity
2012: A large, A-rated energy trader customer willfully refused payment on a long-term time charter contract while continuing to operate the ship, intentionally and substantially depleting B+H's liquidity
2012-13: Commenced an orderly wind-up of B+H Ocean Carriers as the responsible way to meet obligations to creditors; the Company's $202M loan facility was repaid in full and the commercial disputes from stressed counterparties were settled in B+H's favor
Today: B+H is a historically fully-integrated, current turnkey shipowning and management company comprising seasoned shipping industry professionals with all necessary systems and market relationships in place for a successful operation.
Founder + CEO
Michael S. Hudner
Mr. Hudner has been primarily responsible for the acquisition and financing of over 140 Product Tankers, Combination Carriers, Bulk Carriers, Crude Oil Tankers and Offshore Support Vessels for B+H Shipping Group. In addition to heading Navinvest, the investment arm of the company, Mr. Hudner serves as CEO and Chairman of the entire Group. Mr. Hudner pioneered the development of numerous significant novel shipping finance techniques and vehicles that paved the way for many subsequent imitative deals by other owners. Mr. Hudner is a graduate of Harvard College, and is a member of the New York Bar and the Council of the American Bureau of Shipping. Mr. Hudner is active in many philanthropic and community organizations including Mystic Seaport Museum, Coastal Resources Management Council of Rhode Island, and Phoenix House of New England (1996-2012).
Head of sale and Purchase + COmmercial director
Gerard H. Potier
Mr. Potier oversees the sale and purchase of vessels for B+H. Mr. Potier joined B+H in 1989 and has over 30 years of experience in the shipping industry. He was previously the Shipping representative of the Louis-Dreyfus Group in North & South America. Mr. Potier has negotiated the sale or purchase of over 150 vessels and has been involved in designing and implementing the transportation of commodities in emerging areas of the world involving (among others) project cargoes, supply, transportation, storage and distribution of millions of tons of bulk cement, coal and agriproducts in the Middle East. Mr. Potier holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration and in Economics from Paris Business School ESCP, and is a member of American Bureau of Shipping.
Bay A. Hudner
Ms. Hudner has a broad and deep background in analytical, commercial, and company-building roles. She previously worked as an analyst with a top international real estate finance consultancy and as Head of Talent + Marketing on the management team of Entrepreneur First, Europe’s premier technology early stage venture fund and accelerator. She also worked on the Tanker and Sale & Purchase desks at the Barry Rogliano Salles, headquartered in Paris and one of the world’s largest shipbrokerage firms. Ms. Hudner is a graduate of Harvard College and the London School of Economics.