Merger cocktail headache

Mergers create many a headache. From job losses to disgruntled customers, shipping is well aware of the pains of corporate marriages. However, one lesser-known tricky situation is when it comes to party invites.

Clarkson’s bash at Posidonia has for many a year served as the largest, most high profile and keenly attended soiree of the 10-day jamboree.

Set around the pool at the Astir Palace, the Clarkson bash tended to be very, very crowded – you shuffle, not stroll, you scrum down for the buffet. It’s also always been very flash (my ballpark guestimate EUR400,000) – fireworks, live music, great food and drinks.

The problem this year is brought around by the merger. Bear in mind two years ago Clarksons had 3,500 guests at its reception and separately Platou had 2,500 at theirs (and sources tell me there is surprisingly less overlap on the names list). This means the merged entity faced a large conundrum on Monday night as the Westin at the Astir Palace where the event always takes place had already told Clarkson they had had too many people attend at the last Posidonia.

So this year invites to Clarkson Platou have been like gold dust – and handled in a very different manner than in years past to ensure the riff raff did not sneak in. Genuinely, I have had very, very senior professionals within the maritime industry come up to me asking how to go about getting a ticket to Posidonia’s most celebrated party.

We ran a curtain raiser to Posidonia last week, looking at what the likely talking points might be for the world’s most famous shipping show – one wag quipped: “How to get a ticket to the Clarkson Platou party!”

What’s noticeable this time around is that invites for most parties across Posidonia are not as free-for-all as in the past. The days of waltzing in to any flashy bar unannounced are on the wane (guilty as charged on so many occasions). Some require barcodes, others photo IDs – perhaps a sign of the straightened times in shipping.

For the record, the first ever Clarkson Platou party was still a blast, and though very busy, the scanning of invites did seem to work in that I could walk around the poolside easy enough. The straightened times though perhaps rubbed off the event. Less fireworks and the bars closed rather early compared to previous editions.

Tonight, it’s time for the UK embassy and possibly the Korean bash back at the Astir.

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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