Just came across some big news...
VShips, my current employer, is reportedly being bough by behemoth pension fund OMERS - Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Scheme. The fund with $53 billion under management, representing the pension of 400,000 Ontario employees is said to be spending $500 million to acquire VShips, one of the world's largest ship managers and ship operations service provider.
OMERS is made up of the pension of 931 public employers in the Province of Ontario - such as transit workers, policemen, firemen, municipal workers, children aid workers, non teaching school workers, and hydro employees.
In Canada, based out of their Montreal Offices, Vships Canada manages the bulk of the Martin family CSL's fleet, along with some vessels for Kirby Corp, Shell, and Intelecom, to name a few. The company, based in Glasgow, and / or Monaco, and / or Isle of Man, has numerous brands such as VManpower, VShips Leisure, Seatec, etc. VShips is the founding brand, with their website listing VGroup as the overarching brand. I am not sure if the Groups is spinning off just the ship management side of things; but based on my observations, I assume it will be the whole group.
According to the VShips website...
"Formed in 1984, V.Ships is the leading supplier of independent ship management and related marine services to the global shipping industry. Currently, it supplies services to a fleet of over 1000 vessels and manages a crew roster of 24,000 staff."
The company has many facets, in numerous offices all over the world, but has a primary UK flavour to its operations. You can find out more about VShips here, VGroup here, OMERS here. Below is the news article from Reuters with (unconfirmed) details of the deal, and transaction.
Ontario pension plans are no stranger to the maritime business. For instance, the Ontario Teacher Pension Plan, managing a massive $107 billion portfolio, has a wholly owned subsidiary called Global Container Terminal - which is the biggest operator in the Port of Vancouver (TSI in Vancouver and Delta) moving 70% of the containers traffic. They also control container port operations in Bayonnes, New Jersey, and Staten Island, along with airports and a $140 stake in Carnival Corporation.
Canadian pension fund OMERS to buy V. Ships
Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:36pm IST, By Claire Ruckin
LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) - Canadian pension fund Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Scheme (OMERS) is set to buy V. Ships, one of the world's biggest ship managers, for about $500 million, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Private equity firm Exponent agreed the sale to OMERS, which could be completed by the end of next week, after talks with Charterhouse Capital Partners broke down, the person said.
OMERS was not immediately available for comment.
The Canadian pension fund was in the original auction for V.ships along with Cinven, Permira and Charterhouse.
Charterhouse and Exponent failed to agree the sale after Charterhouse revised its offer and linked part of the payment to the future performance of V.Ships by adding an 'earn out' clause. Exponent preferred an all-cash offer, the person said.
OMERS' purchase of V.Ships is expected to be financed with leveraged loans. Royal Bank of Canada is close to the deal, banking sources said. Lazard is advising Exponent.
HSBC and Citigroup were leading the financing backing Charterhouse's bid, several sources said.
Exponent bought V.Ships with management in 2007 backed by $267 million of debt according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.
This included a $180 million, eight-year term loan B; a $60 million, seven-year acquisition facility; and a $27 million, seven-year revolving credit facility.
Under Exponent's ownership, V.Ships has completed three acquisitions including Norway-based engineering consultancy business RC Consulting in 2007, Dubai-based International Tanker Management in 2009 and Singapore-based underwater engineering company Maritime Underwater Maintenance and Services in 2010.
Formed in 1984, V.Ships is a leading supplier of independent management and related marine services to the global shipping industry.
The Glasgow-headquartered company supplies services to a fleet of over 1000 vessels and manages a crew roster of 24,000 staff. (Reporting by Claire Ruckin, edited by Tessa Walsh and Erica Billingham)
OMERS Board of director (my new bosses) pictured...
Friday, July 15, 2011
Just came across some big news...
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I am just working through an update for the main site, and came accross an interesting link to a Canadian Geographic Magazine piece, on the the St Lawrence Seaway. For those outside Canada, who may not be familiar with the seaway; it is a major piece in Canada's maritime industry, and a fairly impressive feat of engineering.
The article by author D'Arcy Jenish, lays out what the Seaway is all about while transiting it on the Canada Steamship Line's Spruceglen. A topical look at the look at the seaway but an easy and interesting read. Check it out the article here, published about one year ago.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
In twin announcements by high ranking Conservative Party types, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Ontario, and Treasury Board President Stockwell Day in BC, the Canadian government granted the waiver of duties (tax) for imported ships over 129 meters long. This waiver has long been sought by Canadian shipowners, and has been seriously rumored for several years now.
This means that "big ships" coming into the Canadian Register, will not be subject to a 25% tax on their cost. The big winners to start off the new policy, retroactive to the beginning of the year, is BC Ferries and Algoma.
BC Ferries is receiving, according to published reports, $119.4 millions dollars back, on duties paid for their new ferries, built in Germany - the three Coastal Class (Super C), and the new Northern Expedition. It plans to give it's customers an "across the board", on all routes, 2% fare reduction, effective later this month.
The press release goes on to mention that BC Ferries will allocate $20 million dollars to "...upgrade key assets in the ship repair and maintenance business in British Columbia." Further details are to be worked out, but I would assume this means good news for Deas Pacific Marine. Deas Dock, as it is commonly known, is located in Richmond, BC, and a wholly owned subsidiary of BC Ferries, responsible for fleet maintenance.
Meanwhile, Algoma in Ontario, is receiving $15 million dollars back, presumably for duties paid on the rebuilds of the Algobay and Algoport. As you may remember these ship were towed to China, where the fore-body was cut off and new ones attached.
In the Montreal Gazette, industry talking heads heralded this as the needed boost to their business, well, that it is! They go on to say, after how they have "been held back", ....shackled, from making investment in new equipment ... "The waiver will also help to reduce our environmental footprint and provide more jobs". Who couldn't be for that! Interesting article really.
Unfortunately, as in Algoma's case (and as far as I know), the removal of import duties does not mean automatically new ships for Canada's maritime trade. It could just mean old ships made newer - somewhere else, as in the case of the Algobay / Algoport. Keeping the old engines and expensive bits, hardly counts on improving their environmental footprint. Perhaps, there is some improvements in cargo capacity and handling efficiencies, but I would hardly say that these are environmental selling features.
Perhaps even just old stuff from the international deep sea fleet, coming into the Canadian Register - like CSL Richelieu - will benefit from the waiver of duties. Sure it's worn out for deep sea trade, but heck, it beats the average age of a Canadian vessel by a few years, that can't be all bad.
Obviously, a little bit different take on the news clippings. I certainly will not hold my breath to see a major fleet renewal program with modern tonnage on the Great Lakes, why would they. Historically, the shipowners don't seem to be held to account for much, why start now.
I could not find official government documents on the announcements, stipulating the various conditions, but the above observations should be of concern. Don't get me wrong, I like to see at least some positive action from the government; its an encouraging sight. Now if we, other stakeholders in the marine industry, could only have a small amount of influence as the shipowners have had over the many decades past. Mmmmmm.
On the ship building side of things, this does not mean the beginning of the end for Canadian shipbuilders, no, no, that was about thirty years ago, but probably the final nail in their coffin. I believe the shipyards in Canada have seen this coming for quite some time. In reading the Globe & Mail's article on this, there was an interesting piece attached, regarding international financial policies, which I found interesting and somewhat relevant.
Incidentally, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is also the same minister who sent me a letter in response to my inquiries for tax relief, for foreign going Canadian seafarers. He responds "Based on this reasoning, it is unlikely that there would be created a new tax exemption for Canadian seafarers". Maybe he means until it benefits the Canadian ship owners more, and they ask for it, perhaps then... Something to hope for.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I got a few emails yesterday, alerting me to a ship grounding in the St Lawrence Seaway. Having been home for some time, I haven't posted much apart from that big update on the main site. I guess they were justified, in drawing my attention to the grounding of CSL's Richelieu, from the warm weather and kids activities, that I have been engrossed in, these last few weeks off the ship.
But little did they know, I was already fully aware. Well, not that I am super on top of things but it was pretty hard to ignore the considerable media attention the incident garnered, clear across the country. Actually, I was kind of surprised by the extensive coverage. National news organizations, CBC, CTV, Globe & Mail, were all over it, the TV networks dedicating considerable live coverage. I guess it was a good thing the ship had, a few months ago, come out of the Turkish shipyard, freshly painted, and at least it look good from far on TV.
Like usual, the news did not satisfy my curiosity on how the accident happened, actually probably raised more questions than anything. But at the end of the day, the vessel had a "basketball size" hole in its hull, which was also tank side, and spilled about 75 tons of heavy fuel oil, just "up river", off the Cote St Catherine lock, near Montreal. Claude Dumais, vice-president of technical operations for Canada Steamship Line, told the CBC, regarding the cause of the accident, "it's under evaluation right now, but it is a mechanical failure at this point in time, more than human error."
The incident closed seaway traffic, and was repordedly the first in the Seaway's 51 year history, which I definitely find surprising. The location of the incident, and what appears to be good preparedness by the Seaway Corporation, seems to have ensure a quick containment to the spill. As I write this, I see on AIS, that the Richelieu is still moored near the Cote St Catherine Locks, and there appears to be no other traffic moving yet.
The 30 year old Richelieu, if I recall the story correctly, is part of four sister ship purchased in October 2009 - Richelieu, Saguenay, Oakglen, Mapleglen. They were previously owned by CSL's competitor, FedNav. All four were tied up, on and off, in Montreal over the last year, undergoing modifications for entry into the Canadian register. Fire broke out in the engine room (purifier room) of one of the vessel, the Oakglen, I believe, during welding activities, causing extensive damage. Except for the Saguenay, all other ships have entered into the Great Lakes trade.
I worked briefly on the Richelieu, just a few months ago while she was undergoing modifications. The ship overall looked a little tired, and in need of some TLC. In the engine room, things were not in bad shape, but certainly seem to suffer a "lack of love" from a steady crew. I suspect the ship, having recently entered in the Canadian register less than two months ago, operating with a new crew, perhaps something went amiss, causing a power failure.
This is also the second grounding for CSL in 8 months, in the seaway. The other occurred to the CSL Assiniboine, back in November 2009. That accident caused considerable damage to that vessel.
I am sure I will know more about the Richelieu's problem shortly, in the mean time, this gives me some anxieties about my responsibilities on our own vessel, also suffering from old age and operating in the tight confines of the seaway - but which probably does not look as pretty on TV. Gulp.
Owners : CSL Group Inc.
Managers : VShips Canada
Class : Lloyd's Register
IMO number : 7901150
Flag : Canada (since 01-06-2010)
Ordered : February 1979
Keel laid : April 1980
Launched : October 1980
Delivered : December 1980
Ship type : Bulk carrier
Gross tonnage : 22,734
Net tonnage : 13,049
Deadweight tonnage : 35,630
L.O.A. : 222.49 meters
L.B.P. : 216.75 meters
Width overall : 23.22 meters
Draught : 9.72 meters
Depth : 14.36 meters
Builder : N.V. Cockerill Yards Hoboken
Country : Hoboken, Belgium
Hull number : 893
Engine builder : A/B Gotaverken
Country : Goteborg, Sweden
Main Engine - 1x B&W 6K67GFC
Fuel : Heavy fuel oil & diesel oil
Horsepower : 11,600 bhp or 8,531 kW
Speed : 14 knots
Propeller : 1 variable pitch
Bow thruster : 1 (1,180 hp or 880 kW)
Steering gear : Cort steering nozzle
Ex : (a) Federal Ottawa - Belgium (1991)
(b) Federal Ottawa - Luxembourg (1995)
(c) Lake Erie (3) - Marshall Islands
(d) Richelieu - Marshall Islands
Here are the media stories on the Richelieu - CBC, CTV, Globe & Mail, Boatnerd, Radio Canada, Toronto Star, and Canwest as well as the newswire; the press release from the St Lawrence Seaway Corp. Picture above from CTV, all others from my own collection. Here you will find some interesting tidbits and pictures of the ships shortly after purchase by CSL, laid up in the port of Montreal.