In the early 1970s, Alexandros Petrakis founded a dynamic agricultural commodities business that specialized in animal feed processing and trading, which he grew to become a significant player in animal feed export in the South-Eastern Mediterranean region. The business was well supported with solid financials and average exports of 50,000 tonnes of cattle cakes and protein-rich animal feed per year. The exports grew larger consistently year-on-year and from a point onwards, mainly involved shipments of animal feed from Greece to Libya. 

To cater to the needs of the business, vessels were chartered to transport the traded cargo that was being sold on CIF terms. Following substantial time spent in the process, essential knowledge of the shipping business was derived and the prospect of a vertical integration was being considered imminently. This later provided the foundation for expanding into shipping.

Until the late 1970s, Libya's economy was mixed despite the political instabilities, with still

significant presence of private enterprise. However, the Government’s economic reforms culminated by taking control of a large number of private companies, turning them into state-run enterprises. By the early 1980s the state had restricted access to individual bank accounts to draw upon privately held funds for government projects. This essentially signalled the end for the private companies importing the traded commodity and therefore for the exports to Libya.

While activities in the commodities business were gradually subsided, Alexandros Petrakis saw the opportunity to invest into shipping and acquired a Handysize vessel. In 1983, he founded Iason Hellenic Shipping Co. Ltd in order to assume the ship management operations and made a promising entry into the market.