Dhaka: Today we catch up with Tanjil Chowdhury, managing director of one of Bangladesh’s most diversified conglomerates, East Coast Group (ECG), which as the name suggests contains a significant shipping element to its business empire.
Founded over 30 years ago ECG is now involved in trading, power generation, downstream petroleum, shipping, renewable energy, plastics and ceramics manufacturing, real estate, wood treatment, corporate finance, banking, insurance, tea production, logistics and distribution.
On the shipping front, ECG is an owner, plus has an agency business and a growing crew management subsidiary too.
East Coast Shipping Lines is the agency side of things with offices in Dhaka and Chittagong. The company extends logistics support to the group by chartering, brokerage, management and agency services to the trading activities of other sister companies.
EC Bulk Carriers was incorporated as the group’s shipowning arm and currently has one 41,000 dwt bulk carrier and one crude oil 107,000 dwt aframax tanker. While the group has no further ocean going ships on order at the moment, it has two bullet barges under construction for carrying LPG through inland waters of Bangladesh for its own LPG project.
Meanwhile, ASP Omera Crew Management is a jv between East Coast Shipping Lines and ASP Ship Management established two years ago.
Chowdhury says the group is in the process of consolidation.
“In the current market scenario it is very hard to stay competitive and profitable, hence we are planning to divest and re-invest with a bigger and younger fleet in the near future,” he says, adding: “All our operations are synergised, hence, we already have plans to acquire LNG/LPG carriers, chemical tankers for our own business consumption. We are also looking at getting another aframax.”
The downturn has taught Chowdhury and his shipping team how to be prudent with investments. It has also taught ECG “the virtue of renewed patience”, he says. “How we depreciate and valuate assets has been stripped down to its bare essentials. There is no middle, either you stay and find your market at the bottom or at the top,” he says, adding: “Shipping wise, as soon as the market improves we will be there ready to strategise and invest.” [27/06/13]