Svend Andersen: “If you’re not optimistic, you shouldn’t enter the business”
SAL Heavy Lift this week announced it has bought a majority stake in Intermarine. When asked by SAL CEO Martin Harren, Svend Andersen decided to return from his retirement to lead the company. “It will be a big challenge but I see a lot of opportunities”, Andersen tells PCJ.
Intermarine has become part of the SAL Heavy Lift Group with immediate effect but will continue to operate under its own brand. In the initial press release, the companies say their fleets and markets complement each other well, creating an “unrivalled shipping setup within the Americas and cross-Atlantic trade.”
“These are two very different companies, SAL is a technical heavy-lift carrier while Intermarine is a multipurpose liner company, but there are definitely synergies. We can use each other’s ships, contacts, lots of things that can be done in combination”, says Andersen in an interview.
Can you elaborate on how this agreement came to live?
“It has been going on for some months. I was asked by Martin [Harren] if I was up for a challenge like this. Even though I’m retired I feel part of the industry and I know the company well, already having worked there in the ’90s. It will be a big challenge but I see a lot of opportunities. I’m still full of energy so this seemed like a great chance.”
You have also become a shareholder yourself. Why did you decide to invest and what does the shareholder structure look like?
“When you go into it, you go into it to try to build it. SAL wanted me to be a part of it and I consider it to be a sound investment. As for the shareholding structure, I can only say that SAL is a majority shareholder.”
What are your plans to grow the Intermarine business?
“We’re just starting so, for now, we continue to grow the business, but we’ll be looking to develop new services in the future, to Africa for example. Whether this will be done under the SAL or Intermarine brand is something that we’ll have to see.”
Intermarine used to own a fleet of US-flagged vessels through US Ocean. With the US offshore wind industry set to become a large market, is this something you’d like to bring back?
“No, we don’t have plans for that. Never say never, of course, but owning and operating Jones-Act vessels is quite complicated, so in the US we will focus on import and export instead.”
With Covid-19 and the slump in the oil & gas industry, what is your current view of the market and how optimistic are you about a recovery?
“If you’re not optimistic, you shouldn’t enter the business. I truly believe that we will see more cargo being moved in the future. Of course, there is a certain pressure in the market right now, but I am optimistic that we’ll see things improve next year.”
You mentioned the development of new routes. Will you be looking to add vessels as well?
“We take the vessels on time charter so we can scale up if needed. At the moment we’re not going to take in more vessels though, because currently there’s no demand for it.”
Analysts had said this crisis could likely spur consolidation in the multipurpose sector. Do you expect to see more mergers and acquisitions?
“That’s difficult to say but it would make sense. I won’t be surprised to see more announcements.”
Andersen will manage the company with the help of Richard Seeg and Chad Call who will act as the Vice President and CFO, respectively.