Former bulk broker Anders Francke and former freight trader Bertil Sahl have just opened their new company Atlantic Chartering Services (ACS) in downtown Copenhagen. They both serve as CEOs of the new company.
Despite the prominent location, the office only fits the two desks and a single couch as well as one large computer screen enabling constant communication over Skype with Noble Chartering's Singapore office. The screen shows two to three employees working in front of their own screens.
We quickly found common ground for the collaboration
The direct contact with Noble Chartering is crucial. ACS was founded purely on request from Noble Chartering and the bulk company's CEO Michael Nagler.
Nagler and the two ACS execs worked together eight years ago at British EDF Trading, a subsidiary of French EDF.
The acquaintanceship led to Nagler entering into a deal with Sahl and Francke that from June 1 of this year they would handle Noble Chartering's growing business in dry bulk trading on the Atlantic.
We're located in the right timezone, whereas Noble used to have to trade through Singapore
Nagler told ShippingWatch in March that the European market and several Danish carriers were a large business area for Noble Chartering, which has traditionally focused on Asia.
"Because we've worked together, there is fundamental trust between us, how we work. We quickly found common ground for the collaboration," Sahl tells ShippingWatch. He came to ASC from a position at Vattenfall and has previously worked at Denmark's Copenship.
ACS is not a subsidiary of Noble Chartering, but rather an independent company with its own books.
"The idea is that we will expand our business by expanding Noble Chartering's business in Europe. We don't call ourselves brokers but our job is to close Noble Chartering's deals on the Atlantic for customers including the large commodity traders," says Francke.
The big segment
To start with, the two heads of ACS will focus on cargoes for Panamax and Supramax but hope to upgrade to Capesize within a short amount of time.
"We are very positive about the future. We're located in the right timezone, whereas Noble used to have to trade through Singapore. Meanwhile, we have a strong Danish network in addition to good connections to especially the American market, both South and North America," explains Francke, who came to ACS from a position as vice president for Panamax and Capesize at Maersk Broker Bulk Charteringer.
His professional background also includes stints at IACP and Bidsted.
"We feel that this is an exciting opportunity to get to build something up in the Atlantic for an organization like Noble," says Francke.
Noble Chartering has clear ambitions in terms of how far ACS should get in its first year, but the company declines to make these targets public.
"But of course we should grow, and I think we will because the interest has been great since we started. We've been busy," Sahl says.
Activity in dry bulk towards the end of the year
Noble Chartering handled total dry bulk volumes in 2016 of 50 million tons globally. 20 million of which were cargo for the company's owner which is the commodity trader Noble Group, currently struggling with financial problems.
Noble Chartering does not publish financial reports and the accounts are not disclosed in the reports for Noble Resources, but Nagler has previously told ShippingWatch that 2016 was stronger for the dry bulk company than 2015 due to the overall better market in the segment.
This year's bulk market still seems a little unstable, say the two CEOs of ACS, when looking at the transport on the Atlantic alone.
"It's always a little hard with dry bulk but we think that we are facing some quiet summer months and we will see the activity level go back up at the end of the year," says Sahl.
English Edit: Gretchen Deverell Pedersen