Hamburg: Germany’s Beluga lived up to its name when in the middle of 2011 it went belly up, becoming a whale of a casualty in the dark days of the shipping downturn. Now, however, with cash from the US’s Oaktree Capital Management and rebranded as Hansa Heavy Lift, the line is sailing a course of rapid global expansion.
Oaktree, which had a 49.5% share in Beluga, kickstarted Hansa with 16 of the 72 ships Beluga had. Since then it has been adding new tonnage fast. A senior vice president at Oaktree, Roger Iliffe, is the ceo of Hansa, and he is ably supported by Joerg Roehl, who serves as chief commercial officer and managing director of the line. Roehl was also with Oaktree and advised Iliffe on the setting up of Hansa as well as bolstering the company’s Asian footprint.
The current fleet is made up of 24 ships, a 50% increase from its founding with 22 owned and two on long term charter.
“We are constantly looking for attractive deals in the market,” Roehl tells Maritime CEO in our regular Friday shipowner profile. “We currently have a newbuild plan, there’s no confirmed orders yet but we are now talking to shipyards, particularly in China,” he reveals.
Hansa’s mid-term goal is to expand the fleet to 30 vessels by the middle of next year, and to about 35 vessels longer term.
Hansa has offices in Hamburg, Singapore, Houston and, as of this January, in Perth in Western Australia. On top of that the company has 11 exclusive agents worldwide.
The focus for cargoes is very much on oil and gas, power generation and wind energy.
“Geographically, there are almost no markets we are not serving today, we are active in almost all continents, but we do see Africa and the Middle East as important markets for future growth,” says Roehl.
On rates, Roehl is bullish noting how they have been going up since the start of the year, and he expects them to continue to rise. “Vessels are moving faster and trading faster, which is a good sign,” says the German national.
Nevertheless, he does recognise that the heavylift sector is suffering from overcapacity, something that could trigger a period of consolidation.
“We believe in consolidation, so does our shareholder Oaktree,” he says, adding: “We certainly are looking into consolidation, especially on the ships side.”
While other owners are finding financing hard to come by, having Oaktree onboard allows Hansa the ability to move fast in the market.
Roehl and his senior management colleagues like to think of Hansa, a relative newcomer to heavylift, as pioneers. With this spirit in mind, it was with some jubilation that Hansa celebrated last December the successful transit by two its vessels through Russia’s Northern Sea Route, something that shaved two weeks sailing time off a normal Europe to Asia sailing.
With more than 20 years of experience in the logistics and maritime industries Roehl has held various senior management positions with Kuehne & Nagel, SDV Group and Agility. [14/03/14]
NEED TO KNOW: Hansa Heavy Lift
Formed in the middle of 2011 with cash from Oaktree Capital Management following the collapse of German heavylift specialist, Beluga, Hansa Heavy Lift has been one of the most active players in the projects segment of the past few years. Fleet today stands at 24, likely order for six ships coming up.