My grand ambition


Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis tells Andy Pierce how he is helping write a new chapter in the decorated history of one of Greece’s most famous shipping names.

Within the perfectly manicured grounds of the Pallas Athena Building sits an icon of the Virgin Mary. Every day during his remarkable life running a shipping empire from his offices here in Athens, legendary Greek owner John Latsis would visit the spot and pray. Even after suffering a stroke in later life, he never abandoned the ritual, his grandson Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis recalls.

For Kassidokostas-Latsis, who has quietly embarked on his own shipping career over the past couple of years, there is no need to look to spiritual figures for help. He knows exactly what his late grandfather would say, were he alive to offer a few guiding words. “He would say: follow your instincts.”

Following the guidance of one of the most iconic shipowners of any generation is a sound strategy. And those instincts seem to be serving Kassidokostas-Latsis well so far. Latsco Shipping, the family’s shipping company, is comfortably in the money with newbuilding investments made over the two years since he took on what he describes as new enhanced responsibilities at the company.

In his first extended interview, and only the second he has given to any media outlet, Kassidokostas-Latsis explains how his grandfather’s deep ties with the industry led to him choosing shipping ahead of any of the other myriad businesses in which the family is active today.

“Shipping is the longest and the strongest tradition in the family as a business for over six, almost seven decades,” he says. “It’s where my grandfather started from — it was his core business and that is important to me.

“Also, it’s very exciting. I like its cyclical nature… it’s very antagonistic and, most importantly, international. Putting all that together, for me, as a package, it’s a very interesting sector and line of business. It’s definitely addictive.”


Pictured: Marianna Latsis, Henrietta Latsis and Paris Kassiodokostas-Latsis at Posidonia 2014.

Although Kassidokostas-Latsis has childhood memories of being taken onboard ships, his main recollections of his grandfather, who died in 2003, aged 92, are more personal.

“I could use maybe three words to describe him. One, he was very instinctual. He was very hard-working and he was a man of his word. It’s like shipping used to be. You would make deals with a handshake. That is how he was. What he said was what he did,” the grandson says.

“He was a legend within the shipping sector. But in my eyes he was more of a legend in life at all levels: as a businessman, as a family man and as a man in general.”

Kassidokostas-Latsis is inspired by his grandfather’s progression from humble roots in the fishing village of Katakolon to become one of the iconic golden Greeks who lit up the shipping industry in the middle of the last century.

“I’m very lucky to have that solid infrastructure that he left behind and a very strong name with a very good reputation, which is a competitive advantage,” he says. “There comes the challenge to be able to live up to that and to continue in that manner.

“One thing I have learned is that you will never have real success in anything in life if you do not work hard and are on top of things. The harder you work and the more you put into it, the more you can appreciate the outcome,” he says, firmly putting his socialite days behind him.

A study in the previous issue of TW+ showed Latsco to be $72m in the money on its newbuilding investments since Posidonia 2012. It was just behind another famous shipping name, BW LPG, in a list headed by John Fredriksen’s Frontline 2012.

At Posidonia 2014, Kassidokostas-Latsis was at the front of the line welcoming guests to a party at the glittering Pallas Athena to celebrate the family’s “vigorous return” to shipping. Although the party placed him more directly under the industry spotlight, the 32-year-old does not believe he is the public image of the company. However, he is comfortable with the increased attention within the industry today.

Latsco’s orderbook, worth more than $600m, according to, extends to 10 ships. Four VLGCs are under construction at Hyundai Heavy Industries, five medium-range products tankers are being built at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and an LR2 at Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries. These will add to the 15 trading gas carriers and products tankers the owner has in the water today.


Pictured: Christos Triantafillidis CFO of Latsco Shipping, Geroge Margaronis CEO of Latsco London, Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis Director of Latsco London and Kostas Vlachos of Consolidated Marine Management.

“There has always been a presence in shipping, but I think that lately we came across a very opportune cycle regarding both sectors that we are in: gas and clean products,” Kassidokostas-Latsis says. “That is what made us make the expansion. We continue being interested in expanding at a moderate pace when the timing is right and it presents those opportunities that we are looking for.

“I’m deeply pleased to have undertaken this task on behalf of my family. I think it’s a big challenge, given the tradition of the family and all the success we have had within this sector. I’m up for that challenge and I want to deliver and do my best to continue this great legacy.”

He is positive about the VLGC and products markets. “That, of course, does not mean there will not be bumps in the road. Overall, long-term, we are optimistic and we strongly believe in these sectors.”

VLGC spot rates have raced to record levels well in advance of $100,000 a day at times this year and were around $120,000 as Kassidokostas-Latsis spoke to TW+.

Although the sun has been shining for owners in the market, concerns have been raised about the number of newbuildings on order. “I think on the VLGC side, the topic which concerns a lot of players is the orderbook, which is around 50\% of the live fleet,” he comments. “I think if you had to face that in another sector, in any other sector, it would make us very concerned too.”

For the VLGC market, however, he notes that the US shale gas revolution and the improved infrastructure to support rising exports — allied with LPG becoming more competitive as a commodity — will counter the growth in supply and stabilise the freight market.

“What I think is, there is going to be a softening of the freight rates because of the growth in supply. But the increase in demand, mainly coming out of the US, is going to help balance out the market and keep it healthy. But,” he repeats, “there are going to be bumps in the road.”

Those bumps remain in the distance. For now, the VLGC market is a darling of shipping investors. Since market leader BW LPG listed in Oslo last year, Avance Gas, Dorian LPG and Aurora LPG have also gone public in Norway or the US. Some have suggested that Latsco would follow suit, with the appearance of chief executive George Margaronis and finance director Christos Triantafillidis at Marine Money in New York in June adding fuel to the fire.

An IPO would be a first for the Latsis family in shipping, although many of its other companies outside of the industry are stock-listed. Kassidokostas-Latsis is open to the idea of Latsco listing, but says an IPO is not imminent.

“I think an IPO is one of the many options that a company has in order to evolve and grow,” he adds. “We are always open to all options; we explore them, as we have explored this too. It is not something we are considering right now. But it is definitely an option that we are exploring and researching.

“Every business differs and there are pros and cons to these things and there must be a point. We are open-minded, we like to explore our potential options and obviously we want to do our homework and educate ourselves before we make any decisions. “Right now, strategically, we have not taken such a decision yet. In the future, I could not rule it out.”

Another option for the future is a return to the large tanker sector, which helped John Latsis and his fellow golden Greeks capture the public imagination as they battled to have the largest ships and the biggest tanker fleets in the world at the time.

Kassidokostas-Latsis says: “We have had a large standing in that sector [VLCCs] historically and traditionally. We have just not had a presence in a number of years. I would not rule that out for the future, it is just that now we are concentrating on growing in the sectors we are in [gas and clean products] and that is where our heads are at right now.”

Success for him will be to grow the company organically, in a healthy manner, while continuing the legacy, expertise and reputation that were established by his grandfather.

“If I’m able to accomplish a fraction of what my grandfather did, I would call it a success story and something I would be extremely happy with — and he would be happy with too.”

Kassidokostas-Latsis remains one of the world’s most eligible bachelors, but one day he would like to see his children continue the family tradition in shipping. “Of course I would like to see the next generation be involved with the same motivation, ambition and love for this line of business that has been a core business of the family for so many decades,” he says. “There is no doubt that they will. It’s in your blood.

“In terms of advice [for them], you can accomplish anything as long as you are honest, hard-working and on top of things. Nobody is going to serve your food on a plate, you have got to go and get it.”

PHD from the University of Life

John Latsis’ influence extended well beyond the world of shipping. He was famous for the personal relationships he established, notably with the British and Saudi Arabian royal families.


His grandson Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis says the great shipowner could adapt to any environment: “He loved the simple man because that is where he came from and they spoke the same language. Everybody who worked with him remembered and loved that about him.

“I think what was important about him is how grounded he was and how he never forgot where he came from. He was always a part of the people. But then he could adapt and you could put him with the Queen of England and he would be himself, he would be charming and he would be able to adapt to that environment too. He was a very strong personality, and charismatic.”

Comparing shipowners from different eras is difficult, but Kassidokostas-Latsis is pleased to see the emergence of the new generation of young professionals in the business in his homeland.

“This gives a new, fresh wave and approach in Greek shipping,” he says. “In the old times, the traditional shipowners came from the PHD school, which stands for poor, hungry and determined. That obviously gave them a different philosophy. But we are in other times now and it’s good that the new generation is very much involved, ambitious, aggressive and excited. It’s in the Greek blood and there is no doubt there is going to be a continuation.”

Greeks still going strong

Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis is full of praise for Greek shipping today. “Greek shipping has always been very important,” he says. “Right now Greek tonnage accounts for 15\% of the global fleet. I think that it has always been, and will always be, a big part of the country’s GDP.

“It has evolved in the past years because it has become among the youngest fleets by age. This is the result of strong liquidity in the capital markets and the record profits that Greek shipping companies secured between 2004 and 2008. That is something we applaud and we are proud of.”


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