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Wah Kwong: Renewal period

Hong Kong: In a busy year of fleet rejuvenation and expanded Chinese ties, one of Hong Kong’s grand names in shipping has set a solid foot forward for the future. Wah Kwong Maritime Transport Holdings, the Chao family shipping line, has ordered up to eight ultramaxes this year at Chengxi Shipyard in China. Wah Kwong’s fleet is among the youngest now in Asia.

Working with Sabrina Chao, the chairman of Wah Kwong, is Tim Huxley, the ceo of the firm and one of the best-known names in Hong Kong shipping.

A former broker with Clarkson for many years Huxley has helped guide Wah Kwong through a period of generational transition with Sabrina taking over the company from her father, George. Huxley brings with him a keen sense for where the markets are headed, something George Chao was famous for. This saw Wah Kwong active in the resale market of late, offloading a VLCC newbuild in the past month for around $90m.

Huxley, who starred in a BBC documentary earlier this year about life at a leading British school, has plenty of interests outside shipping including a motor racing team.

The shipping executive has strong views on the future of the dry bulk fleet, believing a large portion of ships built at Chinese greenfield yards could be scrapped soon.

“I think this obsolescence of young ships which are not necessarily modern is one of the elephants in the room,” he says, explaining: “You have a lot of ships that were built in the past five years that were built at very high prices but are now technically obsolete. That will lead to quite a few zombie companies that are surviving when really there is no equity left in them and those ships are as good as unsellable. I can see a time where if the market takes another bath you might have a time where you might see a six- or seven-year old being scrapped.” [13/12/13]

NEED TO KNOW:  Wah Kwong
One of the grand names in Hong Kong shipping, the 61-year old private line is engaged in LPG, crude oil and dry bulk trades. Sabrina Chao took over as chairman a year ago, becoming the third generation of the Chao family to take the helm of the line which traces its roots back to Shanghai.



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