Nam Cheong: “Room to grow further”

Singapore: Nam Cheong has been a near-constant in the news in recent months, becoming one of the busiest companies in the OSV sector.

With a history that stretches back to 1968 Malaysia’s number one shipbuilder with a 12 ha yard in Miri has been outsourcing the bulk of its ship orders to a number of Chinese yards since 2006 as business ramped up.
 
Leong Seng Keat, executive director of the Malaysian OSV giant, tells Maritime CEO that his company has built 80 OSVs in the past five years, most built to stock and all sold on ahead of completion.
 
The reason for the success? “Nam Cheong is impressive in the shallow water market,” he says, a sector he describes as “recession-proof”. This has seen pent-up demand for OSVs from local Malaysian players, but also from across the world, in places such as Australia, West Africa and Southeast Asia. Whereas Nam Cheong’s client base eight years ago was 100% Malaysian it is now 50:50 between locals and overseas companies. It listed in Singapore in 2011.
 
Nam Cheong handles a wide range of ship types including platform supply vessels (PSVs), safety standby vessels (SSVs), anchor handling towing supply (AHTSs) vessels, accommodation barges, landing crafts and multi-purpose support vessels (MPSVs).
 
This year it will deliver 19 ships, with 20 scheduled in 2014. Predominantly these are built in China, mainly at three yards, although Nam Cheong has worked with a total of six Chinese yards over the years.
 
Among new products being marketed is the WSD 1000 MPSV designed by Wärtsilä. Malaysia’s largest offshore operator Bumi Armada has ordered four of these ships recently. Speaking at an event (pictured) at this week’s big shipping show, Sea Asia in Singapore, Leung said Nam Cheong has been working with Wärtsilä for more than a decade. “As a company we always like Norwegian designs, but not the price,” he said, “We want to Asianize them, stripping away unnecessary features of Norwegian design for the Asia Pacific market.”
 
To diversity its business, Nam Cheong started out in vessel chartering through subsidiaries, S.K. Marine and Nam Cheong Marine.
 
It currently has a fleet of 13 vessels, comprising ten SSVs, one AHTS and two landing crafts, which are chartered out by way of bareboat or time charters.
 
All the hard work at Nam Cheong has paid off, with net profit nearly doubling last year and sales in 2013 already past $420m. Leung will not stop there however. “There’s still room to grow further,” he tells Maritime CEO.  [11/04/13]
 

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