After about five months of work, Maersk Broker and Lightship have opted to pull the plug on the joint dry bulk venture LMB Bulk Chartering. And it is disappointing that the companies in the end could not make things work, explains Morten Have, Executive Chairman of Lightship Chartering.
He declines to elaborate on where the specific disagreements between the parties lie, but they concern principle and structural matters, he tells ShippingWatch.
"We have tried to carry out a merger, which we were not successful in doing. There were some structural things that we could not agree on and where we were not able to meet. We have decided to keep the details to ourselves," he says and continues:
"We have spent considerable time and resources both commercially and in management. We have not wasted that time, but have learned a lot of good things and have found good friends in each others' firms. There is no such thing as a happy divorce, but there is a complete absence of drama in the breakup. It is unfortunate and both parties would have liked it to work out. Unfortunately it couldn't. It's better to have tried and failed than to have never given it a chance."
Thursday evening the news emerged that Maersk Broker and Lightship had canceled the planned major joint venture, LMB Bulk Chartering, which was established back in December. Since then further work has been done on the basis of a letter of intention.
When the deadline for the letter expired, it was not possible for the companies to find common ground regarding the final details. According to Morten Have, it was "very close", but the minor details were seemingly in some way major, as the merger was ultimately unsuccesful.
"Now LMB Bulk Chartering needs to be dismantled in a nice and sober manner. We will now go back to our own respective companies, but there are no hurdles in terms of dismantling what we have started and expanding on what we can do together."
Since the first of January, various LMB Bulk Chartering has entered assorted business projects, and this business must be equally divided between the two parties.
"It is the back office part that needs to be cleared up and the dismantling of the business since the first of January. We will split it 50/50," says Morten Have.
Going forward, both companies agree to continue collaborating. Lightship is strong in the Atlantic while Maersk Broker is strong in the East. This was one of the reasons for the joint venture in the first place.
"After the cooperation we have a very clear idea of where we can support them and where they can support us. We should build further on this," says Morten Have.
Even though, the joint venture is put to rest, he is positive on behalf of Lightship. The company will continue its office in Singapore which Lightship started during the work with the merger and in August another office will be opened in Oslo.
"We are making progress and in the midst of a development phase. LMB was part of this during a period and now it won't be. I can't say that it has fueled the fire to continue with mergers right now, but I'm convinced that both companies will continue the strategy and vision of this merger and that something similar will be carried out in the future."