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Breakbulk July 2018

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July 2018 | The Journal of Commerce 13 Breakbulk & Project Cargo business last year when Bremen-based Harren & Partner bought SAL Heavy Lift from "K" Line, the Japanese ship- owner that had acquired a 50 percent stake in the Hamburg company in 2007 and took complete control in 2011 as part of a diversification pro- gram. The deal didn't work out, with SAL struggling to turn a profit since the global financial crisis of 2008. Harren &Partner, a privately owned firm, is now a major player in the heavy-lift sector with SAL's 15 vessels, of which a dozen have crane capacities of between 900 and 2,000 metric tons, and 11 ships operated by its Combi Lift unit. Despite the industry's hard times, its potential, particularly in specialized niche sectors, is high- lighted by the fact that the owner of Hamburg-based based Hansa Heavy Lift, whose fleet of 16 ships are among the youngest in the business, is Oaktree Capital Management, a US global investment company man- aging $100 billion of assets. While leading companies con- sider further consolidation, they are also forging operating alliances in response to the changing market environment. BBC Chartering and Jumbo Shipping, a Dutch heavy-lift company, formed a strategic partner- ship, "Global Project Alliance," late last year to leverage their respective strengths and assets to jointly bid for specific projects. "We realize that the world of project shipping is changing rapidly and that our organizations need to focus on building strategic assets that will enable them to create value in the future," said Svend Andersen, CEO of BBC Chartering. The market consolidated further in April when Rotterdam-based Roll Dock and SAL Heavy Lift launched the world's first pool for dock vessels to target roll-on, roll-off and float- in, float-out heavy-lift cargoes. The alliance is aimed at boosting the uti- lization of the fleet of five RollDock ships and one SAL vessel that is being managed by the Dutch company and offering more options to customers. Even as demand rises, the breakbulk shipping industry has to continually look over its shoulder at rival shipping sectors including container ships, roll-on, roll-off vessels, and bulk carriers. "The fly in into South America and is a leading project cargo player out of Asia; Zeaborn brings a strong presence in Europe and Asia." Zeaborn became a major player in the multipurpose shipping sector in 2017, just four years after it was established, with the acquisition of Rickmers-Linie, the heavy-lift/ project cargo unit of the financially troubled Rickmers Group that oper- ates a round-the-world service. Zeaborn accelerated its expansion earlier this year with the acquisition of German ship management company ER Schiffahrt that has put it in charge of a fleet of around 165 vessels. And there's more to come, with Zeaborn's Ove Meyer saying the company is likely to eventually take full control of Zeamarine. Europe further tightened its grip on the breakbulk and heavy-lift line after China's Cosco Shipping Specialized Carriers and Germany's BBC Chartering. "Each respective entity brings unique value to the joint venture," said Ove Meyer, managing partner of Zeaborn, which will have a majori- ty stake in the new Bremen-based company. "Intermarine has a strong reputation out of the United States "We realize that the world of project shipping is changing rapidly and that our organizations need to focus on building strategic assets." lower shipments of steel slabs and few loadings of turbine foundations for positioning in offshore wind farms. Zeebrugge's breakbulk volume crashed 29.8 percent in the first quarter to 261,000 metric tons from a year ago when the last of 80 giant modules shipped from South Korea and China were transported on to Russia's Yamal LNG plant some 600 kilometers (373 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. Despite the slide in volumes, European ports are enthusiastic fans of breakbulk because it creates much more value and jobs on the waterfront than more flamboyant cargo sectors, notably containers, which hit record highs in Rotterdam and Antwerp in 2017. "With a [multipurpose cargo] volume of 1.4 million tons, these may constitute no more than 1.5 percent of total throughput, but their depth of added value and impact on jobs make them an important element in the port of Hamburg's cargo mix," Germany's leading port authority said. Around 15 percent of approximately 9,000 ship calls a year at the port are made by breakbulk and heavy-li vessels or specialist units for rolling or reefer cargoes. The lower breakbulk cargo volumes across the North Europe waterfront does not necessarily mean ports are losing business. Antwerp's traffic has almost halved since 2007 when it reached 19.8 million tons, but it still handles much of the "lost" volume that now arrives in containers. The industry's potential going forward will be gauged by the price paid for Luxembourg- based Euroports, a major breakbulk player with 22 terminals in Europe and three in China that was put up for sale by its owners — Brookfield Asset Management, Antin Infrastructure Partners, and Arcus Infrastructure Partners — in October. There was speculation the sale, being handled by Goldman Sachs and Citi, could fetch 1 billion euros ($1.17 billion), but so far there have been no indications of a deal on the horizon. ― Bruce Barnard

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