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Clipper divests three new multipurpose vessels

Clipper has divested three fairly new multipurpose vessels to an Algerian carrier, the company confirms. The market is still in the doldrums and will remain so for some time to come, says CEO of Thorco, which manages Clippers ships.

The recent sale of three multipurpose vessels of 9,00 dwt, built in 2011 and 2012, was an opportunity the carrier could not pass up, Clipper Group CEO and member of the Thorco Board of Directors, Kristian Mørch, tells ShippingWatch.

Algerian carrier Compagnie Nationale Algérienne de Navigation (CNAN) has acquired the three ships as part of a long-expected fleet renewal, according to Alphaliner's analysis on Tuesday.

"I can confirm that we've sold the ships to CNAN," Kristian Mørch tells ShippingWatch.

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"It's part of our business to continually renew our fleet, and we felt this represented a good opportunity to sell. We secured a good price for the ships, otherwise we wouldn't have sold them. They weren't originally up for sale."

Clipper has signed a confidentiality agreement with CNAN and is therefore unable to discuss the price or delivery of the ships. According to Alphaliner, one of the ships involved in the transaction, the Clipper Gemini, has already been delivered to CNAN, while the remaining two will be delivered in the coming weeks.

Difficult times

According to Thorco CEO Thomas Mikkelsen, the sale of the three ships will not result in a loss for the carrier. The ships will be replaced with other tonnage, he says. But these are not "happy days" in multipurpose and heavy-lift, as the market remains under pressure:

"The market still hasn't really gotten up in gear - there's not enough meat on the bone. And we're also weighed down by the fact that we've only just exited the summer holiday period, which doesn't make the activity level better," says Thomas Mikkelsen.

Thorco: Multipurpose market about to turn

Still, the CEO can point to small, positive signs in the market that seem to be pulling in the right direction. However, this does not mean that the segment will return to its pre-crisis level, he says:

"But when we're out there visiting customers in the industry, their attitude also reflects an increased activity with known projects during 2015. It's important for us to hear that our customers are hopeful about the future," he says.

Will dawn in 2015

Thomas Mikkelsen hesitates about pointing to the second half of 2014 or early next year as the time when the crisis will ease its grip.

"But I expect more activity in the second half of 2015, in lieu of what we're hearing from customers and the segments we're transporting cargoes in. But we have to face the fact that it's going to take some time, and that we'll have to scrape by a little."

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In spite of the struggling market, Thorco finished 2013 with a USD one million profit before taxes and a USD 190 million revenue. Thomas Mikkelsen expects the same performance for 2014 as a whole:

"We expect the result to fall in line with 2013. The market this year has been at around the same level as last year, so we expect a similar result," says Thomas Mikkelsen.

In addition to the three ships recently divested by Clipper, the carrier also has other multipurpose vessels up for sale - namely older ships of more than 15 years, which have now been up for sale for little over a year. The ships count five so-called C types and one M type.

"When the ships reach this age, it's natural for us to get rid of them," says Clipper CEO Kristian Mørch.

Thorco landed profit of USD 1m in year one with Clipper

The merger with Clipper's multipurpose fleet added around 40 vessels and 50 employees to Thorco Shipping A/S globally.

The current Board of Directors consists of Chairman Thor Stadil, Thomas Mikkelsen, who is also CEO of the carrier, and Christian Nicholas Stadil. Following the merger with Clipper, partner and one of Clipper's two CEOs, Kristian Mørch, also joined the board.

Thorco: Plenty of appetite for growth

Thorco: Bigger ships open up for new business

Why Thorco and Ramskov parted ways

Clipper Group's Danish business still losing money 

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