Maritime CEO

TMT: Nobu Su admits, “I would have played it differently”

Singapore: The latest issue of Maritime CEO magazine, the global flagship of Asia Shipping Media, goes live online today. On the cover is the elusive, mercurial Nobu Su, who runs Taiwan’s Today Makes Tomorrow (TMT), a man whose fortunes have taken a battering with the shipping downturn.
In an extremely rare media interview, Su confesses, given his time again, he would have played things differently.
Su, who has been fighting court battles on multiple fronts since declaring bankruptcy, reckons market forces were beyond his control for his mistimed investments.
“The freight was not decided in the normal competitive way,” he recalls, adding: “It is decided in a very anti-competitive way. I did not get this feeling for a long time. So If I knew, I would not invest so largely like $7bn in orders at two major Korean shipyards. I would have played it differently.”
One of the industry’s most enigmatic characters, far more technically astute than most other shipowners (pioneering previously unheard of ship conversions, for example), Su got big by betting big. He was the largest FFA player during the boom years (accounting for 15% of all trades at his peak) and he was right about Chinese iron ore imports, but he grew too big, too fast and when things turned, he had nowhere to go.
During the boom era he was the game in town, fêted by every broker and snake oil salesman and, looking back, it’s easy to argue he just could not stop believing what they said. Come the financial crisis, like the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes, Su was exposed and bereft.
Su is not the only hard-up owner profiled in the current issue — Yudhishthir Khatau from Varun Shipping in Mumbai tells readers where it all went wrong for his company in another surprisingly frank interview.
In total, the latest edition of Maritime CEO carries the thoughts and insights of 24 shipowner bosses.
The magazine, which is official media at this year’s SMM show in Hamburg in a couple of weeks time, also carries a German flavour to it with big name German owners, Oldendorff and Harren & Partner, profiled plus a useful travel guide to Hamburg and an entertaining column on German wine.
The full magazine can be accessed for free here.  [25/08/14]

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