Preparing for the future

Over the course of its 179-year history The Rickmers Group has evolved into an established international provider of services for the shipping industry, through its three business segments Maritime Assets, Maritime Services and Rickmers-Linie.

These three divisions maintain responsibility for different sections of the business, so for example, Maritime Assets plans, finances, acquires, and manages the Group’s assets as well as ships held in trust which are chartered out to liner operators, while Maritime Services provides professional ship management for Rickmers’ ships and other leading companies in the shipping industry. Its services include technical and operational management, crewing and management of newbuilds. Finally, Rickmers-Linie offers liner services for breakbulk, heavy lift and project cargoes, operating a fleet of multi-purpose carriers with heavy lift cranes. It also manages Rickmers’ investment in a heavy lift/breakbulk terminal in Hamburg.

It is clear from the information discussed above, that the Rickmers fleet includes a wide variety of ships, operating around the world. They range from container ships (small feeders to 13,100 TEU, multi-purpose carriers that transport breakbulk, heavy lift, and project cargoes) to conbulkers, bulk carriers and car carriers.

The fleet was expanded as recently as June 2013 when Rickmers Group signed a contract for the purchase of five 2200 TEU container vessels. The value of the investment amounted to more than $30 million and with this transaction, the fleet of vessels owned or managed by Rickmers Group increased to a total of 97.

This wide assortment of vessels are in operation for both a loyal client base and new client groups – in fact, The Rickmers Group has an impressive international customer database, with client relationships cultivated over many years. It is the preferred shipping partner for many well-known global players, and in addition to this it supports institutional investors and banks in their efforts to exploit the opportunities in shipping.

These clients are serviced around the world through more than 20 offices and over 50 sales agencies. This network and a strong global management team secure the success of the company, which remains true to its core values of leadership, passion and responsibility.

Having been around for nearly 180 years, Rickmers Group is no stranger to ups and downs in the market, and despite the ongoing challenging market environment for the shipping industry, which negatively affected Rickmers Group as well, the company achieved stable operating performance in the first half of the financial year 2013.

“Overall challenging market conditions across the entire shipping industry affected the Rickmers Group …however, we have made good progress on executing our strategic initiatives; creating optionality for new investments that will enable the Group to take advantage of growth opportunities in the market place and building our capabilities to better position Rickmers diversified business model for success in the future,” says Ronald D. Widdows, CEO of Rickmers Group and Rickmers-Linie.

“We continued to restructure our vessel portfolio, enhanced Rickmers Maritime Services third party activities and made anti-cyclical investments like the initiation of Rickmers-Linie’s new Westbound Round-the-World service, connecting Asia with South and North America,” adds Ignace Van Meenen, deputy CEO and CFO.

In addition, Rickmers Group managed to raise its equity ratio and recorded a stable cash flow from operating activities in the first half of the financial year 2013. “As part of Rickmers’ strategy to exploit new sources of financing, the company successfully issued a 175 million euros bond in June 2013. Considering the overall difficult market environment we are pleased to report a solid development with regards to consolidated equity ratio and net debt as well as Asset Segment driven sustainable EBITDA and cash flows,” explains Mark-Ken Erdmann, Deputy CFO.

The success of the company during this period is a testament to The Rickmers Group’s forward thinking management team and the approach they adopted to handle the crisis in the shipping markets – in fact, Bertram R C Rickmers, in his Chairman’s statement for the 2012 financial report, described it as an ‘opportunity.’

‘Our preparations for the new environment started at an early stage – remaining true to our ability to adapt,’ he stated. ‘This is why we are not currently under pressure of having a huge pipeline of ships ordered at peak asset prices; our fleet is fully financed and our business is broadly diversified. We have begun addressing the energy efficiency of our ships, laying the foundation for increased earnings and strengthening our competitive position.

‘We remain on course, even through turbulent seas. This is largely down to our adaptability – a distinction that is closely associated with our family shipping tradition, celebrating 180 years in 2014. A demanding financial environment, high operating costs and low freight rates – all these present the greatest challenges facing our industry. Nonetheless we remain optimistic.

‘I am proud that we have created the essential requirements needed to make our company better prepared for the future… We have developed the potential to actively shape the market in a demanding environment and to exploit the opportunities offered: a talent that sets us apart from the competition and places us in the position of continuing Rickmers’ history by starting another successful chapter.’

Reputation for reliability, quality and efficiency
Impressive international client base
Excellent relationships along the shipping supply chain