Oldendorff: Reading the waves

Oldendorff: Reading the waves

Lübeck: Oldendorff Carriers is one of the grandest names in German shipping, operating at any given time more than 500 ships, including its transloader units. Typically it transports around 300m tons of raw materials and semi-finished products every year with an annual turnover in the region of $5bn.
The aim at the moment is to up the proportion of owned ships. The company took advantage of low prices back in the dark days of 2012 to kick off a very significant newbuild programme.
The newbuilding program consists of 68 ships for delivery through to 2017 from Chinese, Korean and Japanese yards.
“This will increase the share of owned vessels substantially,” says Peter Twiss, the firm’s president and ceo of the past 11 years. “We also expect our chartered fleet to continue to grow,” he adds.
In big news for Oldendorff at the end of June it announced it had bought out Abu Dhabi’s Eships, a very significant diversification from its traditional dry bulk focus. Eships’s 30-strong fleet is made up of MR tankers, chemical tankers, LPG vessel and a pair of capesizes.
Twiss, 46, reckons dry bulk rates in the coming 12 months will be “respectable”, especially with iron ore volumes remaining robust.
“After the collapse in late 2008, we are currently experiencing the first signs of a slight recovery due to an intermediate slowing down in fleet growth,” Twiss, a Canadian national, relates. Annual newbuilding deliveries peaked in 2011 and have since slowed down, he observes.
“However, the current recovery may not be sustainable with deliveries expected to increase again in 2015 and 2016 due to the high number of new orders placed in 2013,” Twiss reckons.
Being involved in dry bulk naturally means Twiss is keeping a firm eye on the Chinese economy, which some analysts are insisting is in shaky form.
Macroeconomic data this year continues to indicate that the Chinese economy is in the process of deleveraging, Twiss admits. “Although demand for commodities will certainty slow down, the Chinese government has shown that they are willing and have the tools available to avoid a sudden or sharp fall in economic activities,” he insists, pointing to the slew of mini-stimuluses announced in recent months.
Twiss started his shipping career in 1995 at Switzerland-based Concept Carriers, which was founded by Oldendorff. In 2001, the company merged with the Egon Oldendorff group and Oldendorff Carriers was established. Two years later, Twiss became ceo of the new company, pursuing a brilliantly timed execution of shipping’s greatest maxim: buy low, sell high. He sold off a large portion of the fleet in 2007 and was one of the first to clock in 2012 that newbuild prices were hitting rock bottom. [21/08/14]

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