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HANSA 06-2017

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Schifffahrt | Shipping Diver preparing for underwater repair V.Ships expands successfully in offshore Photo: V.Group UK-based V.Ships prides itself on being the leading ship manager with a fleet of 1,100 vessels, around half under full technical management. It has moved to consolidate that position, not only in the maritime sector but in offshore as well, a move that seems to have paid off In offshore, V.Ships believes, current diffcult market conditions are causing many shipowners to consider third-party management as a way of reducing costs. Ship management activities are carried out by a total of 650 staff working from 22 offces in major maritime centres around the world, backed up by a central team in Glasgow, while London-headquartered V.Group – which also offers marine technical and financial services – has around 70 offces in 34 countries. An additional 40,000 sea staff work in marine and offshore positions, sourced from the group’s network of 34 fully owned recruitment offces around the world. V.Ships says a combination of this »significant global presence« with its ability to offer »low-cost operations« by spreading overheads across its 1,000+ ships, are major reasons for its market-leading position. Diversity of the fleet also allows the group to claim unrivalled breadth and depth for its services. Vessel types under management include crude, products, chemical and LPG/LNG tankers; bulk carriers up to VLOC in size; containerships up to 14,200 TEU; and specialised vessels including offshore types such as OSVs, PSVs, FPSOs, seismic vessels, cable layers and diving support/subsea vessels. Separate marine services offered by V.Ships include technical inspections and condition monitoring, repairs, risk management, procurement, crew travel and insurance. Many of these activities are grouped under the SeaTec (formerly High spec dive support vessel Lichtenstein V.Ships Consulting) brand, which has access to more than 250 permanent and associate technical experts worldwide, with support offces located in London, Shanghai, Singapore and the UAE. Since its formation two years ago SeaTec has carried out more than 1,000 ship inspections, including technical condition surveys, superintendence and technical support services to the cargo and commercial sector. Clients also 38 HANSA International Maritime Journal – 154. Jahrgang – 2017 – Nr. 6

Schifffahrt | Shipping use SeaTec inspections to help make ship investment decisions. A strategic move was the acquisition of Bibby Ship Management, specialised in managing offshore vessels, from Bibby Line Group of Liverpool, UK. With addition of Bibby’s 332 personnel based in offces in seven countries and roster of some 4,000 seafarers, the move was described by V.Ships as »extending its market leading position to the offshore sector.« At time of unprecedented challenges for the offshore market, »our combined capabilities offer compelling outsourcing proposition to our clients, helping optimise operating and budgetary performance for ship owners,« V.Group CEO and president Clive Richardson commented. »With the extensive expertise of the Bibby Ship Management team, our ability to offer comprehensive management and support services to offshore oil and gas assets and specialised project vessels is second to none.« The move certainly seems to have paid off, with V.Ships Offshore having since won a number of high-profile management contracts for large, high-spec offshore vessels based out of Singapore, including Dive Support Vessel »Lichenstein« for Ultra Deep Solutions, advanced SURF/IMR (Subsea Umbilicals, Risers and Flowlines/Inspection Maintenance and Repair) vessel »Pride« for Fortress Transportation, and deepwater pipelay and construction vessel »Amazone« for McDermott. In April this year the company decided to expand its offshore ship management operations in the UK’s oil and gas capital Aberdeen by moving into a new offce close to the harbour, thereby allowing easier access to clients vessels based in the North Sea that are visiting the port, as well as more space to perform in-offce crew training. INTERNATIONAL MARITIME JOURNAL FORUM SCHIFFFAHRT FINANZIERUNG Photo: UDS Singapore A total of 21 Aberdeen-based employees provide technical and crew management services for offshore vessels both operating in the North Sea and based further afield, with the full gamut of V.Group’s wider marine services also available to ships managed from the offce. Matt Dunlop, group director of Marine Operations, says the growing presence in Aberdeen signals V.Group’s »long-term commitment to our offshore customers.« In a challenging energy market, vessel owners look to tighten operations and reduce overheads, Dunlop adds, which V. Ships Offshore responds to by »providing solutions which present significant cost and effciency savings … enhanced by V.Group’s scale and global purchasing power.« The group plans to exploit its advantages of scale even further going forward. V.Group executive director in charge of business development Bob Bishop predicts »significant consolidation« in the ship management industry going forward, adding: »We plan to be leading it.« New CEO Photo: Maersk In the meantime, V.Group announced its decision to appoint a new CEO. »Following the appointment of Chairman, John Pattullo and non- Hanne Sørensen executive director Jesper Kjaedegaard«, the new CEO is expected to start work in Q4 2017. It was stated, that the decision was taken jointly with Clive Richardson who has successfully led the company since 2009 and who steps down. He will be replaced by the former Maersk manager Hanne Sørensen who will act as interim CEO. In her new position, Sørensen is supposed to »help accelerate V.Group’s change programme following the investment in the company made recently by Advent International.« Pattullo said: »I would like to thank Clive Richardson for the years he has dedicated to building V.Group into the global, market-leading business that it is today. »The appointment of a new CEO underlines our commitment to attract new talent«, Haris Kyriakopoulos, Director at Advent International, added. ED ORIGINS IN RUSSIA V.Group traces its origins back to the Vlasov Russian emigré family, who ran Italian shipping company Sitmar before moving to Monaco, where a separate management agency, V.Ships, was set up in 1984. Today V.Group remains registered in Monaco but is headquartered in London, with global equity group Advent International having taken over majority ownership from Canadian pension fund OMERS in December 2016. V.Ships has meanwhile steadily grown its ship management activity through a number of strategic mergers and acquisitions, beginning with Geneva-based Acomarit in 2001. At the time Acomarit managed 180 ships, the merged entity becoming the world’s largest ship manager and acquiring the »critical mass« needed by ship managers to remain competitive and to be able to afford the investment necessary in critical areas such as IT systems, the two companies claimed. That strategy has continued very much the same ever since, with notable acquisitions including that of Middle East-based tanker specialist ITM in 2009. Two more important takeovers were completed last year, which have served to cement V.Ships’ position as global market leader in the face of growing competition from other »mega managers« – such as the merged Anglo-Eastern and Univan group in Asia, integrated BSM (Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement) operation within Hamburg-based Schulte Group, and planned Columbia Marlow tie-up of those two German-owned but Cyprusbased entities. V.Ships’ first consolidation move was its takeover of Sealandia Holdings, parent of Sealandia Ship Management Group of Mumbai, India – something of natural progression since Sealandia had begun life as joint venture with Acomarit in 1985. Through the acquisition V.Ships said it was strengthening its Asian presence by addition of Sealandia’s blue-chip fleet, particularly in the tanker sector, as well as securing access to Indian seafarers which it said would be the largest supply from that country enjoyed by any ship manager. Overall, the group has more than 30 fully owned recruitment offces in key marine and energy locations around the world, leading to its claim to be »the world’s largest recruitment and training provider of marine personnel.« HANSA International Maritime Journal – 154. Jahrgang – 2017 – Nr. 6 39

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