Nordic Shipholding will pull its five product tankers from the Maersk-led Handytankers pool, informs Chairman Knud Pontoppidan.
Two of the carrier's vessels will be placed in Denmark's Hafnia Management, while the remaining three will sail in German pool United Product Tankers (UPT), which is operated out of Hamburg.
"There are a number of pools available for our Handysize segment. We have decided to switch pool manager and to divide our fleet between two smaller operators. We believe that we can optimize earnings by being in smaller and more focused pools, just as we will get more influence in terms of how the pool is operated," said Knud Pontoppidan at the company's General Assembly:
"The idea is to place two ships in Hafnia's new handy pool. We know Hafnia, but the other three vessels will be placed in the German UPT pool, with whom we also have good relations."
Even though Nordic Shipholding, which is listed in Copenhagen and currently controlled by Asian equity fund PAQ, is a minor player in the product tanker market, the carrier's decision to withdraw from the Handytankers pool comes as bad news to Maersk Tankers.
This is the second time in just a few months that carriers opt to withdraw vessels from the pool. The two US-based carriers Diamond S Shipping and OSG pulled their ships a few months ago, to the great dismay of Maersk Tankers, one of the few positive stories at the Maersk Group these days.
Diamond S Shipping, controlled by equity fund investor Wilbur Ross, placed eight of its ships in the Maersk Tankers-led pool for Handysize vessels in September last year. Similarly, Scorpio Tankers, which owns the world's largest fleet of new eco-design vessels, would operate five of Diamond's MR vessels. And a further eight vessels were placed Norden's Norient Product Pool.
This enabled Diamond S Shipping to benchmark the results and to switch vessels around fairly quickly if the results were unsatisfactory. And this evidently did not turn out in favor of Maersk Tankers.
Christian Ingerslev, head of third party management at Maersk Tankers and responsible for the carrier's pools, describes Nordic Shipholding's exit from Handytankers as regrettable.
"It's regrettable when a partner leaves us. And it's especially regrettable when we feel that things are in fact going in the right direction. We're working hard to secure new partners," says Christian Inglerslev.
Maersk: Pool strategy intact
He also stresses that Maersk Tankers' pool development strategy remains intact regardless of the latest developments, with several carriers withdrawing and placing their vessels elsewhere.
"Whatever happens in the short term will not change our target, but it's a long process and hard work," says Christian Ingerslev.
Maersk Tankers' plan is to establish pools that cover a total of 100-150 vessels in addition to the carrier's own fleet of around 100 vessels. Maersk Tankers currently heads four pools.