NEW YORK – The brilliant commercial spotlight that has long shone on the famous Greeks – all males – who dominated their country’s globe-leading shipping industry…now shines most brightly on a woman.
The Bloomberg headline declares: ‘A 40-Year-Old Woman Is Now Richer Than Any Man in Greek Shipping’ – and that woman is Maria Angelicoussis. The subhead of the article written by Devon Pendleton and
Benjamin Stupples, with assistance by Tom Maloney, notes that she is “is worth more than $5 billion after taking over her father’s company in the traditionally male-dominated shipping industry.”
Their lead paragraph begins: “In Greece, a country where shipping is king, the industry’s wealthiest figure is a woman.”
This tsunami of facts was confronted by humility as “Angelicoussis declined to comment through a representative,” according to Bloomberg, which noted, however that, “Maria Angelicoussis, 40, heads Angelicoussis Shipping Group, one of the biggest closely held shipowners in the world. She inherited the company, now in its third generation, from her father John, who died in 2021 at age 72.”
The Bloomberg spotlight widened a bit to cover some of her other standout female colleagues, the article noting that, “she’s among a small but growing contingent of powerful women in shipping, an industry deeply ingrained in Greek culture that’s been dominated by men and steeped in machismo since its earliest days. Colorful, brash magnates like Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos were the prototype of the nation’s billionaires.”
Nigel Lowry, Athens correspondent for maritime intelligence firm Lloyd’s List explains, “shipping was always considered kind of a man’s industry, but if you look around today it’s striking how many women are in very prominent positions or poised to be prominent.”
The article adds that, “women now helm Greece’s two biggest shipowners: Angelicoussis at her eponymous company and Angeliki Frangou, chief executive officer of Navios Maritime Holdings. The Union of Greek Shipowners last year elected a woman as leader, Melina Travlos, for the first time in its century-long history.”
The article backgrounds her rise by noting, “a surge in freight rates triggered by a confluence of pandemic factors sent ship valuations soaring over the past two years. That helped boost Angelicoussis’s net worth to about $5.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making her the second-wealthiest person in Greece after banking heiress Vicky Safra, and among the richest women in the world” – and one of the youngest billionaires.
FROM MEDICINE TO MARITIME
On the personal front, the article notes that, “as her parents’ only child, Maria’s rise was more assured than most, though not guaranteed. Cambridge-educated, she was working as a junior doctor for the National Health Service in the UK in 2008 when her father lured her back to Greece to apprentice with him,” during challenging times for the industry, exacerbated for Greek owners by the Greek debt crisis.
Angelicoussis’s father was “the best teacher,” Lowry said. The article continued: “Renowned for his market instincts and loyalty to certain banks and shipyards, he helped the company persist through the recession and grow its fleet of dry bulk ships, tankers, and vessels that carry liquified natural gas.”
When her father suffered a heart attack in early 2021, “Maria was elevated to CEO. His death three weeks later came as a shock,” Bloomberg noted.
“It was a very challenging time for me… I had to navigate personally mourning my father, who I was very close to,” as well as “big changes for the company,” she said last year.
The convulsions of the pandemic period were followed by the rumblings of war.
“When the war broke out, Angelicoussis had ships in Ukraine, and the market-wide fallout was immediate. Russian vessels were banned from most Western ports, oil markets were in disarray and ships and crew faced a new level of physical threats. She made it clear that the company wouldn’t be handling any Russian cargo, citing ‘a huge ethical component’ that went into the decision,” according to Bloomberg.
Lowry said, “she handled that extremely firmly… She seems to be on a very even keel,” an observation echoed by Bloomberg: “Her decisiveness earned her respect from others in the industry, some of whom had been skeptical of her ability to fill her father’s shoes.”
(Material from Bloomberg was used in this article.)