Venezuela Magnate Ruperti Cruises to Fortune

Sep 1, 2008

Think shipping tycoons and Europeans spring to mind. But a Venezuelan has swiftly and discreetly forged an empire and is poised to become LatAm’s very own Onassis.

Keywords: Venezuela shipping SPAC


by Andy Webb-Vidal

Venezuelan businesses have suffered upheaval over the past decade as President Hugo Chávez’s blueprint for revolutionizing Latin America’s biggest oil-exporter clashes with the private sector. But some have made fortunes.

In just five years, Wilmer Ruperti has used sophisticated financial engineering to deftly expand his shipping fleet from one small vessel to 19 ships with a total deadweight tonnage of about a million tons, including two super-tankers.

But if his fleet has grown impressively to become worth about $1.4 billion today, that is not enough for Ruperti, who is preparing to raise $1 billion in private equity in the next few months through a reverse merger with a specified purpose acquisition company (SPAC), most likely in the US. The group’s main advisor is Pali Capital, a financial services firm based in New York, which has been involved in several SPAC offerings.

“Our assets right now are worth...

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