Hong Kong: In their first interview since announcing a merger, the new heads of Anglo-Eastern Univan group outline plans to grow and future trends in the shipmanagement industry. The merger deal puts the new group near the top of the third party shipmanagement rankings worldwide, with close to 600 ships and another 40 set to join the fleet before the end of the year.
The newly merged business will be led by Anglo-Eastern’s Peter Cremers (picturted left) as executive chairman with Bjorn Hojgaard (pictured right) as chief executive. Head office will be in the current Anglo-Eastern Hong Kong office.
Univan was founded by the late Capt Charles Vanderperre, the self-styled father of shipmanagement. After a stint with Wallem Group in the early 1970s, Vanderperre set out on his own founding Univan in 1973.
When he died at the age of 87 in 2009, his wife, Kannika Thasak, decided to continue to run the Univan brand, installing well-known Hong Kong shipping personality Richard Hext at the helm who then poached shipmanagement veteran Hojgaard from Singapore’s Thome to take the ceo role.
Anglo-Eastern, founded in 1974 and led by Peter Cremers, is no stranger to mergers, having taken over Denholm Ship Management in 2001.
On the rationale for pursuing a merger with Univan, Cremers says: “It came with two things we needed. Number one, a long term commited shareholder in Kannika and secondly I saw a driven CEO in Bjorn. The two things were what we needed at this stage to move to the next step.”
On potential job replications and by extension redundancies, Cremers is sanguine. “Both of our organisations are rather slim” he says, “so the total staff will remain roughly the same.”
For Hojgaard the opportunity to work with Cremers and his partner Marcel Liedts (who will take a COO role in the new group) is something he is genuinely excited by.
“Anglo-Eastern is a first class operation that Peter and Marcel have built up over many years,” he says, adding: “Anglo-Eastern was the company that Univan aspired to be. We adopted the same policies about uncompromising standards, being in for the long haul and looking after customer needs.”
Despite the size of the new group Hojgaard is adamant that attention to each client’s needs will remain a priority.
“Every ship is important, every customer is important,” he says. “We want to stay close to the individual ships and customise our services.”
As to whether the merger of these two big names will spur greater consolidation in the shipmanagement sector, Cremers says it is likely. “There are clear advantages of size so others might be thinking in the same way,” he says, something Hojgaard questions.
“Scale is important in shipmanagement,” concedes Hojgaard, a former Maersk man, before adding: “but there are many buyers and very few sellers so consolidation might not happen too much.”