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Top 10 shipmanagers 2018

A trend of consolidation is seen in shipmanagement and how to add value beyond operational services through digital transformation

As part of our 2018 Top 100 most influential people in shipping series, we look at the biggest shipmanagers in terms of fleet size

01 / Ian El-Mokadem, chief executive, V.Group

WITH a 940-ship fleet across 30 countries, V.Group is the world’s largest shipmanager. Moments in the spotlight this year include showcasing digital platform ShipSure 2:0 at SMM; publicly supporting decarbonisation at the Global Maritime Forum; and expansion into the Chinese and German markets.

In his first year as chief executive, Ian El-Mokadem has hinted at taking the company public and has established new priorities including safety and simplicity.

The launch of a technical management model occurred mid-year, creating the ‘fleet cell of the future’ to improve best practices through digital transformation.


Peters Cremers, chairman, Anglo-Eastern02 / Peters Cremers, chairman, Anglo-Eastern

PETER Cremers is renowned for pioneering the takeover of Univan in 2015, creating the sizeable shipmanagement company it is today. He describes how having an effective system in place is imperative for scaling up, illustrating why progressing from managing 12 to 831 ships is not a daunting prospect.

With a service-dominant logic instilled throughout the company, Anglo-Eastern prides itself on its unique selling point (USP) of not being primarily profit-driven.

Despite one cargoship being the victim of Storm Angus in the UK, and a product tanker hijacking this year that was resolved, Anglo-Eastern's involvement in the International Maritime Organization’s ‘Seafarers' Mental Health and Wellbeing’ provided positive recognition.


Heinrich Schulte, chairman, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement03 / Heinrich Schulte, chairman, Schulte Group

HEINRICH Schulte represents the fourth generation of leadership within this family business, which reinforces the German heritage of Bernhard Schulte. With 650 vessels, in which 90 are company-owned, it is firmly positioned as a leading shipmanagement company.

This year saw horizontal integration with the initiation of Bernard Schulte cruise services, as well as exemplified leadership in the liquefied natural gas sector through acquisition of Pronav, demonstrating commitment and awareness of regulatory pressures.

BSM plans to continue its push into Asia, where it has found a gap and is enjoying strong growth.


Kishore Rajvanshy, managing director, Fleet Management04 / Kishore Rajvanshy, managing director, Fleet Management

KISHORE Rajvanshy spent time at sea before becoming managing director at Fleet Management, with 24 years accumulated in this position.

Under his command, Fleet Management has grown organically to a 463-ship fleet with a ‘global scale but Asian focus’. Following a successful 10 years in Cyprus, Fleet Management is broadening its presence in Europe with a subsidiary in the Netherlands.

Mr Rajvanshy won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 Lloyd's List Asia Pacific Awards.


Geir Sekkesæter, chief executive, OSM05 / Geir Sekkesæter, chief executive, OSM

IN 2013, Geir Sekkesæter was appointed as chief executive for OSM Maritime Group, which provides shipmanagement services for 430 vessels.

It handles sophisticated offshore service vessels, such as subsea construction, platform supply vessels, anchor handling tug supply vessels, shuttle tankers with dynamic positioning, and double-acting tankers with Azipod propulsion.

This year, OSM rolled out a seafarer mental health campaign to benefit the welfare of the 11,000 crew on vessels under its management.

The Norwegian company also launched an online management procurement platform.

Mr Sekkesæter studied mechanical engineering at the University of Strathclyde, before working at classification society DNV GL as a surveyor for 12 years.

He also served as president of Wilhelmsen Shipmanagement and senior vice-president of Teekay Marine Management.


 Olav Magnus Nortun, chairman, Thome06/ Olav Magnus Nortun, chief executive, Thome

OLAV MAGNUS Nortun was appointed chief executive of Thome in 2015, bringing with him a wealth of experience as a naval architect and industry expertise, enabling him to oversee 400 ships and 12,000 seafarers.

Thome celebrated its 55th anniversary in 2018 and won two prestigious awards, MPA ‘Innovation in Technology and Systems’ and Seatrade ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’.

With new regulations placing new demands on shipmanagers, Thome instigated new values of digitalisation and globalisation, which are implemented through their digital operations hub in Singapore.


Carl Schou, chief executive, Wilhelmsen07 / Carl Schou, chief executive, Wilhelmsen

WILHELMSEN Ship Management comes in just shy of Thome’s fleet, with 396 ships. Carl Schou is a decade into managing the company and has carved himself a space for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) advocacy.

Early in the year, Wilhelmsen Shipmanagement ventured into the offshore wind sector. The group teamed up with affiliate NorSea Group to provide technical maintenance for TenneT’s offshore and onshore transformer stations, as well as AC electricity transmission systems. WSM then opened a new office in Southampton, UK to strengthen the position in flagged and owned UK tonnage fleet.

In the summer, Wilhelmsen Shipmanagement appointed a new digital officer, Øyvind Størdal, to boost its digital drive in Singapore. The group has embarked on several initiatives, including a joint venture with technology provider Kongsberg to develop autonomous shipping. 


Mark O’Neil, president, Columbia Shipmanagement08/ Mark O’Neil, president, Columbia Shipmanagement

CONSOLIDATION is a common theme within shipmanagement this year, and the merger of Columbia and Marlow certainly made waves late in 2017. Recent ventures include the GenPro procurement platform with BSM, and the ‘I Care’ policy, which focuses on the human element of culture.

Prior to joining Columbia, Mr O’Neil started his career as an army officer, finishing as a Captain five years later, then worked as a lawyer for Reed Smith LLP’s German Shipping team for 17 years. He is enthusiastic about digital opportunities in shipmanagement and speaks at numerous global maritime seminars.


David Price, managing director, Wallem09 / David Price, managing director, Wallem

WALLEM is by no means the new kid on the block. With 115 years of shipmanagement experience, it knows and is known to the industry.

Its management structure has, however, been shaken up this year, with Simon Doughty stepping down for personal reasons and Frank Coles, ex-of Transas, recently being named as his replacement.

Master Mariner David Price transitioned to a shore-based role and spent 15 years with V.Ships before joining Wallem, where he prioritised safety through the 'Wallem Engagement Programme'.

Wallem was shortlisted as a Lloyd’s List 2018 'Training Award' at its Global Awards; celebrated its 60th anniversary in Singapore; and took over management of a further four Genco tankers.


Captain Rajesh Unni, chairman, Synergy10 / Captain Rajesh Unni, chairman, Synergy

CAPTAIN Rajesh Unni wears many hats. Founder and chief executive of Synergy, thought leader, advocate for women in shipping and Master Mariner are just a few.

Captain Unni is an advocate for employing more women to promote gender equality and has been quoted saying he is in pursuit of a “50-50 balance”, which would aid his goal of enhancing crew recruitment efficiency. His is a lone voice in the argument for consolidation, warning that with size comes risk of diseconomies of scale.

Synergy won the 2018 Lloyd’s List 'Shipmanager of the Year' in Singapore, and gained further recognition due to iCALL, a free psychological helpline for seafarers across all its managed vessels.



The Top 10 shipmanagers list is based on total fleet under management derived from data provided by the companies and public sources. 

*This article has been edited from the original to include OSM Management Group, which has a fleet of 430 vessels, and to remove Zeaborn, which has 156 vessels.

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