Getting technical

In its modern form Ellingsen Shipping Group (ESG) is a family controlled shipping company and investment group, working on an international basis through its London and Stockholm-based subsidiaries, Ellingsen Shipping (UK) Ltd and Ellingsen Shipping Management (ESM) respectively.

Its roots lie in the niche roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) sector, however in recent years the business has expanded into other types of tonnage such as multi-purpose ships, product tankers, and handysized bulk carriers.

“The Ellingsen Shipping Group has interests in about 20 vessels of various segments and sizes with an average fleet age of under two years, and an average contract length of over seven years. All the charters have been performing according to contract, and we are quite well placed considering that this is the worst shipping market since records began. A couple of years ago we invested in a series of handysized ships, two of which have been delivered and are trading well according to the contracts. One is on a two plus one year contract, and the other is on a six plus two months – these are shorter periods than usual but this approach is delivering good performance at the moment,” highlights Per Ellingsen, CEO of ESM.

Whilst Ellingsen Shipping (UK) Ltd is focused on commercial and financial activities, ESM supports the shipboard management of each individual vessel in their daily operational duties. This is against a backdrop of traditional long-term attitudes, and a work ethic that sees ESM treat all vessels under its management as if they were its own. With an appreciation for the long working lifecycle of a vessel, depending on its type and operational area, ESM considers maintaining asset value and minimising offhire to be fundamental to its business approach.

Reflecting on the notable developments of 2011, which stand ESM in good stead for the year ahead, Per comments: “The highlight has been our expansion within technical management of ro-ro ships and dry cargo vessels in the northern Europe and Baltic region. We have strengthened our staff and capacity to really push to gain more market share in ship management.

“We are in the position of being able to offer a full service in technical & commercial management, crewing, project finance, insurance placement, claims handling, legal advice, new building supervision, dry docking, repairs, and special services. The aim here is to build up a concentration of specialised employees to enable us to offer a one-stop-shop, for either a consortium of investors interested in tonnage, or industrial payers who have acquired tonnage and need assistance with logistical solutions,” he adds.

Since its first newbuilding at Finnbodavarvet in 1981, ESM has been involved in over 60 newbuild vessels worldwide. In the last decade alone, the business has advised on the construction of over 25 newbuild projects in China, including complex contracts such as state-of-the-art ro-ro vessels and product tankers. This includes the design and supervision of ten ro-ros at the Jinling Shipyard in China. The first six of these were on long-term charters with Finnlines, and at the end of this contract, four were sold to Finnlines and the other two to ferry line DFDS. The final four ro-ros are also currently engaged by DFDS on a ten-year charter.

Good customer relations are a continuing thread across all of ESG’s activities, with many of these remaining ongoing over a period of many years. Much of this is down to ESM’s operational style, which is designed around longer-term charters and owners’ interests. This approach has paid off as the company remains buoyant, even in these challenging times, with good financial stability and ongoing charter agreements.

By having the foresight to look ahead beyond just the short-term, and keeping up on maintenance and ship renewal, ESG is today reaping the benefits of having a highly marketable young fleet at its disposal. Of course in keeping with this heritage, the Group is already making plans for the next cycle, as Per reveals: “The long term strategy is to be a high quality service tonnage provider for various industries within the northern European region, but to offer this at a very competitive price. With all of the aspects that we are able to cover internally, we are effectively now a one-stop-shop. We don’t have ambitions to become a large ship management firm, we only have the vision of providing a very high service to a selected number of owners with a target of around 15 ships under management. We are of course looking at new building projects and expanding the ship owning side of the business against long-term contracts.”

Long-term business approach
Focus on quality
Strengthened technical management services