Singapore: In terms of percentage fleet growth few Asian dry bulk owners are growing faster than Thoresen Shipping this year.
Thoresen Shipping is the dry bulk shipping arm of Thai-listed investment group Thoresen Thai Agencies (TTA). The business operates under three wholly owned subsidiaries of TTA, Thoresen Shipping Singapore (TSS) and Thoresen & Co (Bangkok) (TCB). Singapore now is where the commercial team is based and all ships are flagged. In January 2013, Thoresen Shipping unveiled Thoresen Shipping Denmark (TSD), its chartering office in Copenhagen to serve the needs of clients with cargos in the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions. With a heritage of offering shipping related services since 1904 and dry bulk since 1985, the group is now pushing ahead with significant expansion.
Managing director Ian Claxton explains this year already Thoresen Shipping has added four ships to its fleet to take its fleet to 23 ships and well in excess of 1m dwt. The stated aim of the company, says Claxton, is to have 30 ships by year end, a 50% increase from the start of the year. The fleet is made of supramaxes and handymaxes and is a balance of geared and grabbed fitted bulk carriers and open hatch box shaped hold vessels.
“ We are very active in the acquisition of suitable additional tonnage,” says Claxton.
On top of the owned vessels, Thoresen Shipping is a significant charterer having around an additional 25 vessels at any one time.
Parent company TTA tends to invests in shipping, energy and infrastructure, with shipping accounting for around 30% of revenues last year. However, Claxton maintains: “With shipping experiencing a downcycle in 2013 and prior years, we would expect that percentage to increase in 2014.”
Dry bulk rates are increasing, Claxton says, driven by an increase in utilisation, which, he says, is seen as a restoration of the balance of supply and demand.
“Basically we see deliveries at a five year low, with a growth in global GDP and demand growth outstripping new tonnage supply,” he explains.
The current uptick looks sustainable for at least two more years, Claxton reckons. “Fragility is dependent on new orders coming into play in 2016 and 2017, and geopolitical issues in both emerging and established economies,” he cautions.
Improving dry bulk rates is also seeing a change in Thoresen’s tactics. While for much of the downturn it played a lot of its fleet on the spot market it is now looking to lock in more long term deals as rates pick up.
The focus going forward, says Claxton, will be to focus on what Thoresen Shipping knows best, namely supramaxes.
“We believe there is less volatility in this sector than the larger sizes, and we believe we should concentrate on what we are good at,” Claxton says, before finishing with a classic line of an opportunistic shipowner: “This can always change of course, dependent on whether an exceptional opportunity should arise.” [04/04/14]
NEED TO KNOW: Thoresen Shipping
Part of diverse Bangkok conglomerate Thoresen Thai Agencies, the line is on a fast growth curve, set to leap in owned vessel numbers this year by 50%. Focuses on supramaxes and handymaxes. On top of owned fleet has significant chartered in tonnage, typically 25 ships at any one time.