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Norden: The asset-light argument

Jan Rindbo aims to take Norden further down his planned digital and global path next year. The CEO of one of Denmark’s largest shipping lines, Norden, is anticipating an improved financial year for his giant dry cargo and tanker fleets after what has been a trying 2018 in which the company was forced to downgrade its full year forecasts on the back of the weak tanker segment.

The Norden fleet today numbers 321, made up of 264 bulkers and 57 tankers. A total of 37 ships are owned with the majority chartered in, a ratio unlikely to change under Rindbo’s watch as he believes in maintaining an asset-light organisation.

“We believe the shipping market should perform well in 2019, as we still have a manageable fleet supply and there is decent economic activity,” Rindbo tells Maritime CEO. Dry cargo rates, he says, should be similar to this year, while tankers are set for recovery.

“Norden has a diversified portfolio, which we see as giving us resilience and strength and the ability to invest in the most attractive segment at any given time,” Rindbo says.

On plans for next year, the former Pacific Basin executive says, “In 2019, we will continue to make our company more agile, digital, customer-centric and even more global. Norden is on a journey to become increasingly asset-light as we grow our ordering activities on shorter term chartered vessels, which also benefits us in terms of the cycles in the industry.”

Among the most high profile events for the company this year was a recent landmark voyage using used vegetable oil as fuel.

“Our early conversations with potential customers are so far very positive, and Norden plans to offer a limited number of C02 neutral transports to selected customers in 2019,” Rindbo reveals.

On shipping’s topic du jour, scrubbers, Rindbo is an advocate of the technology, believing the maths makes for a simple business decision.

“The cost difference between low sulphur and high sulphur fuel oil is expected to increase significantly for a sustained period, making scrubbers an attractive choice for compliance,” Rindbo says. During 2018, Norden has contracted to get up to 31 of its ships fitted with scrubbers.

“We believe scrubbers will give Norden a significant competitive advantage when the new sulphur regulations are introduced in 2020,” the Dane concludes.

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