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From the Newsdesk: Time to address shipping’s lack of leadership

From green bonds to digitalised risk and ESG compliant finance — the opportunities for a cleaner, more efficient industry are there in front of us. What’s missing is sufficiently robust leadership

Our regular round-up of the stories behind the headlines and a timely call to celebrate the innovators, the visionaries and the success stories in shipping

Are entrepreneurs the answer to shipping’s lack of leadership?

The farewell party for Euronav chief executive officer Paddy Rodgers was a suitably historic occasion. Guests boarded the famous tea clipper Cutty Sark to mark the company’s 15 years as a public entitiy, Hugo De Stoop stepping up to CEO and Paddy moving to take over as director of the National Maritime Museum.

While he insists he will not be leaving the industry completely, his robustly outspoken tenure at the top of the industry is going to be missed, and not just by the journalists who could always rely on a suitably pithy soundbite for most occasions.

Speaking on this week’s Lloyd’s List Podcast, Wells Fargo’s lead analyst Mike Webber lamented the lack of leadership in shipping. While projects such as the Poseidon Principles, spearheaded by Citi’s head of transport Michael Parker offered the promise of direction. Such examples of genuine industry leadership are sadly few and far between.

“You have leaders like Michael Parker working to push the industry forward, set against the backdrop a decaying US ecosystem that often seems more concerned with lubricating the status quo than it is with thought leadership,” said Mike in his characteristically blunt appraisal.

“The space is crying out for more Michael Parkers and Paddy Rodgers, and fewer sycophants and predators,” he continued.

We tend to agree with the sentiment on Lloyd’s List Newsdesk, which is why we’ve been spending some time talking to the entrepreneurs that are coming up through the ranks of the industry right now, with some promsing ideas on leadership in hand.

Look out next week for the full report on shipping’s start-up revolution. 

 

Time for shipping to bond over ESG ambitions?

NYK and MOL both tapped the green bond market last year to fund environmental initiatives. However, their initial foray has not been emulated much elsewhere and shipping has generally been slow to the market.

Interesting to note then that MOL is back for more with another set of green bonds to raise ¥20bn ($185.7m) through a public offering in the Japanese domestic market.

The move may be relatively small, but the context is worth paying attention to. Following the formal launch of the new banking Poseidon Principles earlier this month, there is a growing interest from all shipping stakeholders in the rapidly tightening restrictions from capital market lenders and banks linked to environmental, social and governance targets, often known as ESG targets.

The concern is that this trend will further squeeze the available financing for smaller shipping companies, exacerbating the existing push towards consolidation.

But on the flipside, the potential for shipping to tap green bonds, or even push for some form of capital relief from lenders for truly ‘ESG compliant’ projects remains a relatively unexplored area, albeit one that is likely to be a work in progress for some time to come until the era of ESG finance truly takes hold.

In the meantime, more opportunistic quick fix investments are likely to garner more attention from an industry yet to fully digest the implications of the Poseidon Principles.

Shipping’s latest private equity venture is on the hunt for fresh asset acquisitions and new investors, but only for those prepared to move quickly. Jumping into 2020-fuelled investment opportunities may not ultimately align with the 2050 focus of the Poseidon Principles’ carbon reduction goals, but this just highlights the juggling act the industry is going to have to pull off over the next 30 years. 

 

Time to drag a laggard historical industry into a digital future?

The latest run of disappointing results for P&I Clubs makes for slightly concerning reading. Skuld stands alone among the 11 International Group affiliates that have so far revealed numbers in achieving an underwriting surplus last year. And while premium hikes courtesy of the current Middle East tensions are currently drawing the immediate headlines, the insurance crowd are a necessarily forward-looking bunch and the focus this week has been on digitalisation.

Anyone left shaking their head at the lack of digital progress in shipping should console themselves that their insurance cousins have not innovated greatly for about 300 years.

But all that is about to change as data and technology are said to be ushering the marine insurance industry into an era of historic change that will include fundamental improvements in risk assessment.

Our report from a forum in Athens is worth a read, if only because it highlights that shipping is not alone in coming slow to the tech revolution.

Our favourite quote: “The inefficiencies in how the marine insurance market operates are quite staggering and something needs to be done about it”. Indeed! 

 

Industry leaders required. Apply here

Being independently judged as the best of the best by a group of respected industry peers is more than a stamp of approval; it is marketing that money simply cannot buy.

Tough conditions come as standard in shipping right now, but some companies are still managing to shine through innovative thinking, skill and determination.

We’ve said it before, but the Lloyd’s List Awards are more necessary than ever, precisely because they reward successful endeavour in the face of seemingly intractable problems.

So we urge you to wear your laurels with pride. Modesty is falsely applied in a world casting about for answers to tough questions. If you’re proud of an achievement, shed light on it and show your customers what you’re made of.

You can enter all of the Lloyd’s List Global Awards here. They are free to enter and the process is quick and simple, but deadlines are looming so speed is of the essence.

As ever, the awards will be independently judged by a leading panel of experts from across the shipping industry who will assess entries on merit and judge without fear or favour to anyone.

Let’s celebrate the innovators, the visionaries and the success stories in shipping. Get your entry in now — you have to be in it to win it!

 

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