Singapore: Launched in late January by shipping media veterans at Asia Shipping Media, Maritime CEO this week celebrates its 200th interview.
Every day we catch up with a top name in shipping to gauge their thoughts on the industry, with every Friday guaranteed to be a shipowner interview. The best interviews appear in our quarterly magazine. Our aim is to cover every facet of the industry, but only from the viewpoint of the top echelon of management. In our first 200 reports we have met up with the heads of:
– the world’s largest containerline
– the world’s largest breakbulk operator
– the world’s largest dry bulk operator
– the world’s largest LPG operator
– the world’s largest car carrier operator
– the world’s largest shipowning grouping
Every day this week we bring highlights from our first 200 interviews, split into segments. Tuesday sees the Maritime CEO team – with 20 correspondents across the globe – discuss the markets with myriad top analysts.
In May Lena Göthberg, secretary-general of the Institute of Shipping Analysis (SAI) told Maritime CEO that from a supply point of view shipping was in “dire straits”.
“The only bright spots we have spotted so far,” she said, “are car carriers and product tankers.”
Göthberg said shipping is “in the middle of a paradigm shift, an alteration of generations and a crisis”, something she described as “exciting”.
In the same month we caught up with Teddy Tsai, founder and ceo of Markis Capital, Taiwan's first IR and research consulting firm. “The worst is not yet over for the major sectors, such as container shipping or dry bulk, and it will take a few more years before freight rates can see a sustained recovery,” Tsai warned.
Gavin Carter, head of the JOC Group, had some interesting takes on the container sector when quizzed this summer.
Container growth is slowing as the tail end of the outsourcing wave has played out and global growth stutters, he noted. Although traditional sources of ship financing like the KGs are a “spent force”, money is out there, Carter reckoned, pointing to the recent slew of new ship orders.
“The idea of a near term capacity squeeze is fading and the timing of a recovery seems to get pushed further and further into the future,” he said.
Surmising where we are in the container cycle, the media executive said the industry is on the upturn but of a “short and low” cycle.
Volatility in container shipping is here to stay, argued one of the sector’s leading analysts in a Maritime CEO interview earlier this month. Rod Riseborough is the head of UK-based Container Trades Statistics (CTS), which provides data on most container lanes.
In 2001, after a long period with Safmarine, Riseborough was appointed ceo of the Far Eastern Freight Conference (FEFC), which he ran until the EU dissolved it in 2008.
The Asia-Europe trade shows there is “the possibility for some sort of stability”, he reckoned. Asia – North Europe and Asia – West Mediterranean are both “stable”, he said, but Asia – East Mediterranean is not good. The transpacific is growing, he said, with a very good peak season, while transatlantic is stable and north – south trades are on the up.
Maritime CEO magazine’s liner analyst is one of the best-known names in the business, Charles De Trenck.
Looking forward, and back to lessons learned from asset trading, De Trenck said this summer liners have to invest in low cost capacity for a lower growth developed world.
“At the same time we have collectively learned that establishing a greener footprint pays,” he maintained.
Sticking with containers, but switching focus to boxports, this October we caught up with Dr Jonathan Beard, one of the best known names in ports analysis. Managing director of GHK, a firm bought out recently by US firm ICF, Beard’s pronouncements on ports in Asia in particular always tend to ring true.
In Southeast Asia Beard sees “intense competition” for transhipment volumes, something that is only set to grow.
In China, the going is getting “really tough” in the south. Hong Kong will continue to struggle, he said, while overcapacity in south China is not helped by Nansha, a comparatively new giant port 54km south of Guangzhou. Beard described Nansha as “a state-backed entity essentially buying cargoes”.
The Yangtze river delta is “pretty healthy”, reckoned Beard, with Shanghai’s new free trade zone likely to be an “extra fillip”.
The northern Bohai Rim ports have enjoyed a very strong year, something likely to continue next year. Despite this, however, neighbouring Busan, in Korea, continues to post solid results. Busan’s resilience does surprise the ports analyst, but he questioned the profitability of business in Busan.
We asked for Beard’s advice for container terminal operators in 2014: “Focus on Africa and Russia,” he said.
Maritime CEO magazine is able to call upon the services of one of the best known names in dry bulk forecasting for our regular page on the dry bulk trades.
Jeffrey Landsberg is the managing director of New York-based Commodore Research & Consultancy. Landsberg spotted before most of his peers the likely split in earnings between capesizes and panamaxes thanks to the giant orderbook of the latter.
“Prospects for the panamax market are much less promising than prospects for the capesize market, and a strong case can be made suggesting the recent surge in panamax orders has not been warranted,” Landsberg warned in early June.
Once again Maritime CEO magazine was blessed in being able to call upon Peter Sand for our regular tanker analysis page. BIMCO’s chief shipping analyst was ahead of the curve in noting how product tanker sentiment was far stronger than crude oil tanker prospects.
“On the supply side all focus continues to be on product tankers, as the crude oil tanker segment is still experiencing some very tough times in the freight market,” Sand said.
In ship finance we ran into the larger than life founder of Marine Money, Jim Lawrence, who discussed private equity’s strong presence in shipping, the Norwegian capital institutional market, Asian stimulus packages and the slow but firm return of banks to the ship finance arena,
“The worst is clearly behind for financiers,” Lawrence said this September.
On shipbuilding, we caught up with Matthew Flynn, head of shipbuilding database Worldyards.
On the current plight faced by shipbuilders Flynn did mince his words, saying there is “dramatic overcapacity”. It is this excess of yards, argued Flynn, that is actually spurring ship innovation and the ecoship era.
“The yards are hungry so they are pulling out the stops to build ships that are efficient rather than playing the game of efficient shipbuilding,” he explained, before adding one his characteristic memorable shipping quips: “More ship for the buck rather than building more ships.”
Tomorrow in Maritime CEO’s 200 interview roundup, we look at green developments in shipping. [29/10/13]