K Line exits loss making heavylift sector, selling SAL to Harren & Partner

K Line exits loss making heavylift sector, selling SAL to Harren & Partner

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha’s (K Line) decade-long, mistimed adventure into the heavylift sector came to a close today with the sale of its German subsidiary SAL Heavy Lift to Bremen’s Harren & Partner.

SAL Heavy Lift was founded by the Heinrichs family in 1980 in Hamburg. In 2007 K Line took a 50% stake in the company, eventually buying it all four years later. Its fleet today numbers 15 ships.

K Line took over SAL just as the heavylift sector was about to go through its biggest period of upheaval ever, wrought about by massive private equity participation bringing consolidation to the niche, but also making profits tricky for all concerned. As it geared up to unveil a new mid-term management plan, K Line had put SAL in the shop window 10 months ago with Harren & Partner quickly emerging as the leading contender to take it.

“SAL has long struggled after financial crisis in 2008 and profitability of owning asset has been depressed, heavily affected by low-price in energy markets,” K Line admitted in a release today.

SAL’s new owners, however, remain adamant that the acquisition can be profitable.

“SAL is an eminently respectable company with experienced employees and long-term customer relationships which stands for innovation, quality and technical expertise,” Dr Martin Harren, the managing director of Harren & Partner, said today. “We believe that this acquisition will ensure that both SAL and Harren & Partner are very well-positioned for the future. In becoming the new dominant player in the super heavy lift market, we believe this will add strength to SAL and bring with it some much needed pricing discipline.”

Toshio Yamazaki, CEO of SAL, commented: “We are glad to join Harren & Partner. It’s a family-owned company that wants to expand its activities in the heavylift segment. By joining forces, both Harren & Partner and SAL will strengthen their product suites. Customers will benefit from more choices and better solutions.”

Harren & Partner already controls another heavylift outfit, Combi Lift.

“We are aiming for a light-touch integration with Harren & Partner. SAL, with its excellent reputation, will continue to provide its well-known services,” emphasised Peter Harren, founder and managing director of Harren & Partner.

SAL Heavy Lift will still operate as a separate brand with its headquarters in Hamburg.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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