Sailing through

Forming the dry bulk shipping arm of its parent group, Thoresen Shipping Singapore (TSS) is a fully owned subsidiary of Thoresen Thai Agencies (TTA). Listed on the Thai stock exchange, TTA is a strategic investment holding company with three primarily business groups: transport, energy, and infrastructure. As a Group, TTA has provided shipping related services since 1904, joined by dry bulk shipping services in 1985.

Based out of Singapore, with a second commercial centre in Copenhagen opened earlier this year, TSS both owns and commercially manages its own fleet. Describing the current make-up of these assets, commercial director Mike Anderson says: “At present the fleet totals 18 vessels including ten open-hatch, box-shaped handy and handymax sized vessels, and eight conventional grab-fitted supramax ships. The average age across the fleet is 10.5 years. These ships tramp globally with an aim to have approximately half of the fleet in each of the Pacific and Atlantic basins.

“In addition, we supplement our own vessels with a disponently operated fleet of approximately the same size. This gives us greater liquidity, visibility and leverage in cargo contract negotiations, as well as being able to better serve our customer base. By having more hardware under our control it gives our customers greater options and peace of mind,” he continues.

The varied nature of the fleet means TSS boasts a highly diverse customer base. With its open-hatch box-shaped vessels the company is able to serve customers with project cargoes such as pipes, steel, windmills, palletised and unitised cargoes. Meanwhile the conventional bulk carriers serve the minor bulks, industrial mining and agricultural sectors.

“We appreciate that not only do our customers need competitive freight levels in order to ensure market share, but also a reliable, reputable and flexible carrier. We strive to meet and exceed their expectations in all these areas,” explains Mike. “Due to the specific skills and strategies of our commercial teams we have been able to generate a throughyield on our tonnage, which exceeded our benchmark BSI index by ten per cent in the 2012 financial year. We are on course to substantially improve that benchmark performance in 2013.

“As with most companies we have a duty to the shareholders to extract the maximum value from our hardware in a responsible and sustainable manner. We make use of various tools at our disposal to achieve this and manage the risks associated with having a fleet of vessels to ensure they maintain a regular and optimal revenue stream. This is achieved through developing an appropriate cargo portfolio and physical trading strategy,” he elaborates.

The flexibility to trade its vessels as it sees fit in order to extract maximum value is certainly a major benefit of TSS’ structure, particularly given the global nature of its marketplace. “Every year we see increased volume of bulk cargo movements across the board, even during the worst years of the global financial crisis. Localised or specific geographic demands tend to be seasonal and currently the South Atlantic is enjoying a boost from large grain, corn and soya bean crops,” remarks Mike.

He goes on to outline how this has seen TSS look at its own international operations: “We believe that it is absolutely imperative for a ship operating company of our size to have a global footprint in order to maintain its competitive stance. Our Copenhagen office is the first step in positioning ourselves accordingly. The reaction from our customer base has been extremely positive and reaffirms our view that we need to be geographically close to them in order to foster stronger relationships and a deeper understanding of their expectations.”

In June TSS will welcome its latest new build, Thor Breeze, into the fleet. A 53,000 dwt grab-fitted supramax vessel, it has additional performance enhancing and environmentally friendly retrofit applications. “In addition, we will continue with our objective to grow the fleet with a further six young second-hand purchases,” reveals Mike. “We have just concluded another supramax acquisition in this regard. We acknowledge that the current downturn in the shipping market and lower asset prices present a unique opportunity to acquire young hardware at historically low prices, which will see TSS maintain its relevance and viability into the medium and long-term.”

Although the company is feeling the same challenges as the rest of its peers as a result of this market, embracing opportunities as they come puts it in a stronger position when the industry comes out the other side. Considering such a time, Mike concludes with his aspirations for the business: “Our goal is to have 30 owned vessels in the next three years. I’d like to see this happen alongside a disponent fleet of the same size, and a complete global footprint giving around the clock attention to customers, partners and shareholders.

“Due to our proven ability to beat the index I foresee TSS offering commercial management and pool services to third party owners, including vessels owned by banks and funds who don’t have the commercial expertise or infrastructure to manage them themselves, and owners that simply don’t have sufficient volume and market penetration to extract the same value that we achieve.”

Thoresen Shipping Singapore
Ship owners and operators
New Copenhagen office
Purchasing additional vessels