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Theodor Buschmann: African expansion

Hamburg: A German shipyard is expanding overseas, establishing subsidiaries in Africa and the Mediterranean and looking for more international possibilities. Theordor Buschmann is a well respected shipyard in Hamburg, involved in shipbuilding, repair and conversion. Under the leadership of its managing director, Stephan Aumann, the yard is now looking at emerging markets for growth.

“We put high efforts sourcing business and facilities outside Europe, where ship repair services with German know-how and skills are highly required,” the German national says.

Aumann was in Luanda, Angola two months ago and will return shortly to carry out due diligence for a facility he plans to take over. Mozambique is also under observation – and further down the line, possibly India too.

“Both countries, Angola and Mozambique,” Aumann says, “are very interesting for us because they are in possession of sufficient and affordable production labour, two factors which are mandatory nowadays in order to survive and generate growth in this throat cutting buyer’s market.”

Furthermore, based on several requests from its German customers Theodor Buschmann is planning to establish a one stop steel repair service centre in the Mediterranean Sea.

The German yard has been in the news of late for its pioneering LNG bunker barge, TB-X, launched last year. This month the yard started work on a second generation of a self-propelled LNG bunker vessel with a bunker capacity of 2,000 cu m.

Shipyards the world over are still suffering from the boom years in the last decade, Aumann says, when global yard capacity nearly doubled in just seven years, with yards popping out of the ground “like mushrooms”.

“Today in 2015 global shipbuilding is still in-between a trough and recovery phase,” Aumann reckons. Shipyard supply still exceeds demand, he reckons. That equilibrium is still two years away, he reckons.

“Only specialized shipyards with strong organisations are making a difference today and are able to survive,” he says, adding: “And mass production – class type vessels – advantages do not exist anymore. Nowadays each vessel is a prototype and bears high risks of financial loss, even bankruptcy if you do not know how to ride the right horse right.

“These days mistakes in estimation, financing, operations, project planning and execution as well as procurement will be punished immediately and can become killing factors for a shipyard.”

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