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Lloyd’s Register: Class societies should not be listed

Athens: Classification societies should not become listed entities and be beholden to the whims of investors, the ceo of Lloyd’s Register (LR) tells Maritime CEO today.

Alastair Marsh took over from Richard Sadler as the head of LR at the start of the year, having served as CFO for the previous eight years.

Italian classification society RINA has recently made moves to IPO in the coming couple of years, while France’s Bureau Veritas is listed in Paris. Under Marsh’s watch, LR will not be following suit.

“How can you be independent and objective if listed?” Marsh muses, adding: “We will never be listed. I can’t see how class societies could be.”

Marsh reckons customers “would leave in their droves” if the 1760-founded organisation were to list.

Shipping will continue to be the core of LR’s business, Marsh tells Maritime CEO while attending this year’s Posidonia Exhibition in Athens. “You won’t see LR expand into new areas in the next five years,” he reveals.

On the contrary, LR will look to cement its position as the leader in classing more technically advanced ships – LR can boast being the top class society when it comes to LNG, passengerships and cruise, and other more high value, complex vessels.

“I think we have undersold ourselves in the market. We need to blow our trumpet,” Marsh says.

With shipping and offshore going through tough times an inevitable round of redundancies has taken place at the British institution, and Marsh warns more job losses are inevitable. LR’s global headcount has been cut by up to 12% in the past 18 months, down now to around 8,000 staff.

Layoffs have mainly been linked to the oil and gas side of the business. Another 400 staff, mainly from the administration side, are likely to go soon.

“The real challenge for our business is to keep costs in line with income levels,” says the former CFO, before stressing: “We can ride out the peaks and troughs, which is another advantage of not being listed.”

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