Borealis Maritime


Borealis Maritime's management team has a unique set of skills with a proven track-record in the management of maritime assets for financial investors. The building blocks of its expertise have been formed from years of experience in vessel commercial management, technical management, investments, finance (including restructurings), brokerage, market research and reporting. 

The Company is partnering with leading operators and technical managers in each segment of its shipping activities to assure best performances, secure deepest market access, and align with years of specialised experience.

On a combined basis, the team has experience in sale and purchase and ship management across more than 100 vessels. Borealis Maritime enjoys strong relationships with strategic partners across the entire shipping market, including owners, charterers, traders, operators, banks and brokers.  

Our core values are

Integrity, transparency, alignment and performance.

Christoph E. Toepfer

CEO and Founding Partner

Prior to co-founding Borealis Maritime, Christoph was Managing Director of Allocean Limited, a UK and Singapore based diversified shipping group that owned and managed 60 vessels. Allocean was a 100% subsidiary of the investment house Allco Finance Group of Australia. Christoph joined Allocean in 2006 as Deputy Managing Director and led Allocean’s investment and commercial teams. He was promoted to Managing Director in June 2008 and led the restructuring and sales process of Allocean in 2009. Before joining Allocean, Christoph ran Toepfer & Co., his own ship brokerage business in London. His previous experience includes full time positions with Tufton Oceanic and Dresdner Bank in corporate advisory and banking. Christoph holds a Master’s degree in Shipping, Trade & Finance from Cass Business School, City University in London and a Bachelor’s degree in financial management from Syracuse University, New York. Christoph is German.

    Elias Sakellis

    Chief Investment Officer

    Prior to joining Borealis Maritime, Elias was Partner at Pillarstone, a private equity platform focused on European banks' non-performing and underperforming assets. Before joining Pillarstone, he was Managing Director of Quantum Pacific, a private holding group controlling assets in the maritime, energy, and natural resources sectors. Before Quantum Pacific, Elias worked for 12 years at Goldman Sachs in London in its Investment Banking and Equities' Divisions. He started his career at Lehman Brothers in London. Elias holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from INSEAD, and Master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering and in Finance from Imperial College, London. Elias is Greek.

      Nick Topham

      Fleet Director

      Nick has accumulated 30 years experience in ship management and ship ownership. His experience covers a sea going technical background followed by roles as  Technical Manager and Fleet Director, in which he was also responsible for insurance and crewing, and also covers 10 years in vessel operations and financial reporting. He is also very experienced in OPEX and dry dock budget forecasting and control, along with many years close cooperation with the finance department, auditors and the fund managers in relation to liquidity planning and OPEX control on healthy as well as distressed assets. This wide range of experience within the ship management sector led to Nick gaining additional experience as a Managing Director for a company with a fleet of 60 vessels, container ships and bulk carriers.

        Ashvin Gunessee

        Financial Controller

        Ashvin has 13 years of experience in accounting, audit and tax. Prior to joining Borealis Maritime, Ashvin worked at Moore Stephens LLP, a leading shipping accountant in London, as Audit Manager in the International Business Group group. In his four and half year tenure, he was leading audits of large shipping entities and was involved in accounting, corporate finance, internal audits, financial modelling and tax work for other clients. Ashvin has held previous roles at Ferguson Maidment & Co (London), KPMG (Mauritius) and Deloitte & Touche (Mauritius).He is fully conversant with UK and international accounting and auditing standards and UK tax regime. Ashvin is an FCCA from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants from UK and holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Studies from the University of Mauritius.

          Simon Smakowski

          Managing Director (Germany)

          Simon joined Borealis Maritime in October 2015. He was one of the founding member of Hanseatic Ship Asset Management GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of Commerzbank AG, which was acquired by Borealis Maritime in fall 2015. Simon has in total over 15 years of finance and investment experience in structured finance products, portfolio management and loans syndication. Amongst others, he headed the Loan Syndication team of a German bank out of London, successfully structured two large scale shipping loan syndications and introduced complex portfolio management systems in two major German banks. Simon holds a degree in Business Economics.

            Jan Hirschmann

            Head of Container Chartering

            Jan joined Borealis Maritime in November 2015 bringing with him 15 years of chartering, sale & purchase/maritime experience, mainly in the Container Shipping industry. Prior to Borealis Maritime, he worked for H.Schuldt Shipbrokers/Norddeutsche Reederei H.Schuldt in Hamburg from 2009 until 2015 as Chartering Broker, focusing on container chartering. Between 2000 and 2009, Jan worked for F. H. Bertling in Hamburg & Singapore, focusing on competitive dry bulk & container chartering and later concentrating on exclusive/semi exclusive business like Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) & Hamburg Sued. Jan brings with him an extensive worldwide network in the maritime Shipping industry. As Borealis’ Head of Container chartering, he is in charge for all container vessels related chartering activities.

              Jan Wols

              Fleet Manager (Chemical Tankers)

              Jan brings with him vast technical management experience of 25 years, primarily dealing with sophisticated chemical tankers. Prior to joining Borealis Maritime, Jan was the Technical Manager at VT Group where he was responsible for a fleet of about 20 vessels. VT Group is specialised in bunkering and transporting heavy fuel oil and chemicals through inland barges in Rotterdam and seagoing vessels in Panama. In this role, he was mainly focussed on dry-dockings, repair, procurement and budget control. Jan previously had a 21 year tenure as Workshop Manager/Superintendent at Essberger Tankers (formerly Broere) based in Hamburg (Germany) and Dordrecht (Netherlands). Jan holds a degree in M.T.S Engineering from Dordrecht and has completed all Lloyds Register maritime courses.
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