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Top 10 shipmanagers 2019

The top two managers remain in place but competitors are growing rapidly. The sector still accounts for only 15% of merchant vessels, although the tipping point is expected as smaller owners struggle to stay independent

Ranked by number of vessels under full technical management, Anglo Eastern-Univan and V.Group stay ahead, but Fleet is catching up

01 / Peter Cremers, Anglo Eastern-Univan Group

THE Hong Kong-based manager has grown through merger, acquisition and partnership since the management buyout in 1988. Taking in Univan in 2015 has proved harder to digest than expected.

However, a new generation of leaders is about to take over from executive chairman Peter Cremers and his old guard.

The joint venture with Exmar, announced in September this year, links the Belgian manager’s gas shipping specialists with Anglo Eastern’s vast maritime services expertise.

Mr Cremers expects further consolidation in shipowning to be driven by environmental regulations and, where vessel management is outsourced, this will favour the larger managers.

Expect new generations to expand even further.


Graham Westgarth, chief executive, V Group

02 / Graham Westgarth, V.Group

THE placing of management consultant Ian El-Mokadem as chief executive at V.Group was not a happy experience, so the promotion of board member Graham Westgarth to the role marks a return to business as usual.

Mr Westgarth is more than a safe pair of hands for the Glasgow-headquartered manager.

A master mariner, he has been general manager at Maersk UK, chaired Intertanko, and was a leader of executive teams at both Teekay and GasLog.

Mr Westgarth set himself the goal of meeting 50 clients in his first 50 days in office and, although he only met 40, the target shows his determination to keep V.Group among the top managers.


Kishore Rajvanshy, managing director, Fleet

03 / Kishore Rajvanshy, Fleet

CELEBRATING its 25th anniversary in 2019, Fleet (a rebranding from Fleet Management) has doubled in size over the past five years and is now challenging the top two players. That expansion has been purely organic.

Managing director Kishore Rajvanshy has no plans to merge or acquire, so expect more organic growth.

Both Mr Rajvanshy and Harry Banga, chairman and chief executive of Caravel Group — Fleet’s owner — are passing on leadership to the next generation.

Mr Banga’s son Angad takes over at Caravel but the successful interviewee for the Fleet managing director has not yet been announced.

Strongly Asian, its European presence is now increasing.


Ian Beveridge, chief executive, BSM

04 / Ian Beveridge, BSM

BERNHARD Schulte Ship Management was formed in 2008, when Germany’s Schulte Group merged four in-house managers.

Chief executive Ian Beveridge began his career as chief accountant at one of these, Eurasia Shipmanagement, and has worked alongside the Schulte Group since 1991.

He was appointed BSM’s chief executive early in 2018, an extension of his role as chief executive of Bernhard Schulte’s shipowning business.

His vision is to align Schulte’s shipowning and shipmanagement businesses and to use that experience to benefit third-party clients.

In July, BSM marked the 40th anniversary of the opening of a crew service centre in the Philippines.


Mark O'Neil, president, Columbia Shipmanagement

05 / Mark O’Neil, Columbia Shipmanagement

HEINRICH Schoeller founded Columbia Shipmanagement in Cyprus in 1978. Columbia received regulatory approval to merge with Marlow Navigation, another Limassol-headquartered manager, in 2017.

While Columbia is predominantly full technical management, Marlow’s strength lies in crew management.

The merger operated throughout 2019 as independent brands under the Columbia Marlow umbrella, with 13 management offices and 35 manning agencies across the world.

Maritime lawyer Mark O’Neil headed Reed Smith’s German shipping team before stepping into the role as president of Columbia Shipmanagement in January 2017.

The company opened a new performance optimisation control room in Cyprus, with results coming throughout 2019.


Rajesh Unni, founder, Synergy Group

06 / Rajesh Unni, Synergy Group

SINGAPORE-based Synergy was founded by Rajesh Unni in 2006, after he left Fleet Management. Growth has come rapidly in recent years, from 100 ships in early 2016 to more than 260 by late 2019.

Synergy opened an office in Copenhagen in September this year to boost the company’s presence in the European market.

Former Maersk, Clarksons, and Gibsons broker Rune Zeuthen has been taken on to run the Europe and Middle East office.

The company uses a range of KPIs to measure performance. However, chief executive Mr Unni focuses on injury and unplanned vessel service time.

He does not believe managers can provide a customised service to very large fleets.


Frank Coles, chief executive, Wallem

07 / Frank Coles, Wallem

THE arrival of Frank Coles at Wallem Group in October 2018 to replace chief executive Simon Doughty brought a reshuffling of the management.

David Price, managing director of shipmanagement, and Nigel Moore, head of business development, were early casualties. Mr Price was replaced in July this year by John-Kaare Aune, who joined from Cayman Registry.

Mr Coles brought his technology expertise from Inmarsat, Transas and Wärtsilä to bear by implementing BASSnet-integrated software to manage its fleet of ships.

He explained that transparency, data analytics and business intelligence are the way forward for high-performance fleet management.

Wallem’s longstanding presence in Hong Kong is not reflected by its position on this list.


Olav Nortun, chief executive, Thome

08 / Olav Nortun, Thome

EXECUTIVE chairman Olav Eek Thorstensen has run Thome Ship Management in Singapore since he took sole ownership in 1981.

With operational management now in the hands of chief executive Olav Nortun and Mr Thorstensen’s son, president and chief commercial officer Claes Eek Thorstensen, the Norwegian leadership of this longstanding company continues.

Thome was the recipient of the Excellence in Ship Management Award at the Lloyd’s List APAC ceremony in October this year.

Judges picked out crew welfare initiatives, overall safety record and environmental programmes as worthy of note.

Thome also offers marine consultancy, ship agency and corporate services.


Carl Schou, chief executive and president, Wilhelmsen

09 / Carl Schou, Wilhelmsen

IN mid-2019, Wilhelmsen Ship Management, headed by chief executive and president Carl Schou, acquired a 50% stake in NorSea Wind, a three-year-old subsidiary of Wilhelmsen’s own Norsea Group.

The move strengthened the manager’s expertise in the offshore wind sector and involves project management and logistics planning for offshore wind farm projects.

In January, the company had won the contract from Pardus Energy to manage the 170,000 cu m floating storage and regasification unit Turquoise and explained in a corporate think-piece that FSRUs “are not a passing phase any more!”.

Wilhelmsen divested itself of tanker management in 2009 but returned to the sector this year, adding to the management of car carriers, bulkers and gas carriers.


Bjoern Sprotte, chief executive, OSM Maritime

10 / Bjoern Sprotte, OSM

ANOTHER shipmanager with split Norwegian/Singaporean operations, OSM Maritime, which was founded in 1989, realigned its leadership earlier in the year as Tommy Olofsen assumed the role of chairman on a full-time basis, with a base in Arendal, Norway.
Bjoern Sprotte became chief executive of OSM Maritime, responsible for day-to-day operations, including developing common performance standards and systems. Mr Sprotte’s office is in Singapore.
OSM founder and majority shareholder Bjørn Tore Larsen has stepped away from OSM Maritime.
In October this year, OSM was selected as manager of two of the first LNG dual-fuel dynamic positioning shuttle tankers. These are the cleanest shuttle tankers ever built.


The Top 10 shipmanagers list is based on total fleet under management derived from data provided by the companies and public sources

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