The 50 Inspiring Champions of the Blue MBA Class of 2023 – Meet Alain Pinto

Alain Pinto

“Every one of the alumni is doing their bit for the industry,” says Alain Pinto, a shipping company finance director, of the Blue MBA

“The Blue MBA is not just a tag. It’s something that inspires us,” says Alain Pinto, finance director at Campbell Global Ltd, Nassau, which runs a commercially managed fleet of dry bulk ships. “I am confident that the knowledge that I acquire at the school will help propel my journey in the industry, opening me up to new ideas, which I can work on implementing.”

Alain Pinto is one of the 50 participants in the Class of 2023 of the two-year, part-time Executive MBA in Shipping & Logistics programme at Copenhagen Business School.

“Given that I hail from a family of shipping entrepreneurs, the Blue MBA has always been on my bucket list from the time I began my career in the industry in 2014,” he says. “It was only a matter of when would be the right time to do it. However, the challenge of only being able to apply after every two years compelled me to apply to Cass Business School [recently renamed Bayes Business School] for their MBA programme on account of some personal obligations to complete the MBA within a timeline, and I got accepted.”

His hopes of an early place at the esteemed London institution were wiped out, though, by an unexpected global shock.

“Once the pandemic hit us, all plans went straight out the window. So, with another year in hand, the Blue MBA was back on the table. I am very fortunate to have been selected, and I look forward to getting my degree in 2023. It’s the design of the programme and the impact it has made in the industry that impresses me. Every one of the alumni are doing their bit to further the industry, and I, too, want to be a part of this community to make a mark in our industry.”

At the Blue MBA, which he signed up for in September 2021, “I am currently looking to develop a bond with my fellow classmates and learn about each of their journeys. I have a 5-year and 10-year road map, and I know that through the course of this MBA, I probably will be able to reach some of those milestones quicker than anticipated. Further, the various networking events organised during the modules add value to an extended network that could lead to new opportunities.”

The Campbell Group of Companies has a unique pedigree – it was founded by the legendary Scottish naval architect, George TR Campbell who is said to have singlehandedly revolutionised the shipbuilding industry by developing the series of dry cargo vessels: Freedom, Fortune, Friendship, and Freedom Mk2 types.

Headquartered in Nassau, the Bahamas, the group maintains a global footprint with offices in Mumbai, Singapore, and Yangon, and is strongly involved throughout the shipping industry. It offers investment management services and vessel asset management with extensive expertise in technical and crewing services for dry bulk, cargo, and cruise vessels.

The group is a significant dry bulk operator transporting commodities around the world. The managed fleet consists of over 16 bulkers and growing, with a mix of single-trip, and short- and long-term chartered vessels, with a focus on modern handysize, supramax, and ultramax types. The company has recently moved into technical management of cruise ships and is looking to become a key player as a cruise and yacht technical manager.

Mr Pinto moved from being Campbell’s chartering manager for four years, to finance director in October 2021 – coincidentally at a time when ship finance has begun a more positive phase.

He says: “The current disruption in the dry bulk sector has changed the mindset of financiers and funding houses, who have become very bullish towards the dry bulk shipping industry. We do see that banks are supportive as well as more easy-going on their otherwise hard covenants, to try to attract new clientele as well as retain their current clientele. We have definitely seen more financiers approach us this year around.”

As finance director, his responsibilities include raising debt and refinancing fleet Investment strategies to hedge the group’s portfolio, managing existing relationships and business development acquisitions, as well as post-deal integration of special projects.

Does he foresee a cooling down of charter rates and second-hand prices? Could some companies find themselves in difficulties in the event of such a reversal?

“I, of course, don’t possess a crystal ball to put a pin on where the numbers will exactly pan out, but I do see a correction from our current numbers. Going by the current and forecast data available, including the low order books in the dry bulk shipping sector, which is mainly on account of uncertainty over which fuel will dominate after the IMO 2030 regulations will be enforced, this means that owners are particularly sceptical of spending the additional cost of building ships that are dual-fuel compatible.

“We are all certainly bullish that there will be health in the industry. The current inflated hire rates that we see on account of the pandemic disruption will experience a correction once operations stabilise when countries return to normalcy, but looking at the fundamentals, we know that it won’t correct to historic pre-pandemic levels, and we should see numbers stabilise around the 15-20K levels for the Handy and supra segment for the next three years at the minimum.

“This will also have an impact on the second-hand market and the impact will be felt particularly by companies purchasing and taking delivery of vessels during that correction. The current sale-and-purchase transactions have been executed with high valuations because of the ability to place a hedge with the one-year charter hires to reduce the loan-to-value ratio significantly and have the vessel value in the region of its pre-pandemic levels if that hedge is placed. With regards to financed sale and purchase tonnages, I anticipate when and if the market does correct, financiers will push their lenders to meet the agreed minimum LTV requirements forcing the lenders to put up substantial capital to meet this requirement; however, most financiers have also made provisions for a revision in their current calculations while providing loans.”

Mr Pinto has a background in mechanical engineering (he is a Bachelor of Engineering, graduating from Don Bosco Institute of Technology, Mumbai) with thorough hands-on experience in the dry bulk sector including negotiating voyage and time charter fixtures, operating voyages, and handling loading and discharging operations.

Before joining Campbell, he held key positions variously at Amarante Shipping, Bharat Petroleum, and Contract Resources Petrochem, India.