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New German shipowner president welcomes equity funds

Skepticism and prejudice towards the entry of equity funds into the German shipping industry have been overcome, says Alfred Hartmann, president of the German Shipowners Association, in an interview with ShippingWatch.

Photo: VDR

The arrival of equity funds into the German shipping industry during the global financial crisis has brought skepticism and prejudice from both sides, but the development has shown a different side, says the new president of the German Shipowners Association, Alfred Hartmann, who points to several healthy partnerships.

"I believe it’s been possible in recent years for skepticism and prejudice to be successfully overcome on both sides. I can now see a whole series of sound projects on the market, and I am confident that others will come along as well," says Alfred Hartmann in an interview with ShippingWatch.

Ahrenkiel: This is the solution for struggling German shipping

Alfred Hartmann, the owner of Hartmann Group, took over on January 1st, 2015, as the new president of the German Shipowners Association VDR, Verband Deutscher Reeder, following Michael Behrendt from Hapag-Lloyd. And the German shipowner does not seem to share the skepticism that has flourished regarding foreign capital and especially the short investment horizon of private equity funds in the distinctly family-run German shipping industry.

Power center in German shipping under pressure

"This trend illustrates that the maritime sector remains a rewarding investment target. Maritime shipping is a growth market. And there is no better means of transport in the world for moving goods efficiently and in an environmentally sound manner. This is something that private equity investors are well aware of," says Alfred Hartmann:

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"The hallmarks of quality of the German SMEs are the proximity to shipping and the high level of technical expertise. Partners contributing expertise in financial matters are therefore most welcome."

Ships without profit

Alfred Hartmann, also known as Captain Hartmann, for decades a well-known person in German as well as international shipping, has stepped in as president for the German Shipowners Association at a time where the financial climate in the shipping industry looks bleak, in Hartmann's own words. And then there are the aggravating circumstances in Germany, where various shipping banks have been forced to reduce their loans severely, just as the special and tax qualifying KG-system for private investors has collapsed.

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"Current freight and charter rates are putting the shipping companies under enormous pressure. Many vessels have been making hardly any money at all for seven years now. We are operating with the same revenue levels we had 15 years ago, but with the cost structures of 2015," comments Alfred Hartmann when speaking to ShippingWatch about the next big challenges for the German shipping companies in the next few years. He admits that there are significant challenges.

Alfred Hartmann new head of German shipowners

Behrendt: German shipping fundamentally changing

German shipowners warn of major out-flagging

German shipowners lose ground in charter market 

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