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63 Birgitte Vartdal, Golden Ocean

Although Birgitte Vartdal decided to leave John Fredriksen's dry bulk unit Golden Ocean at the end of November, she has been busy securing marine fuels while investing in a new outfit in Singapore

The well-respected chief executive has been able to pay dividends for the past several quarters, despite a challenging dry bulk market 

BIRGITTE Vartdal, the well-respected chief executive of Golden Ocean, John Fredriksen's dry bulk unit, decided to leave the company at the end of November, having completed some high-profile deals this year. 

Firstly, her company invested in a new dry bulk outfit in Singapore, followed by a deal to secure marine fuels with commodities trader Trafigura. 

The Oslo-based Golden Ocean acquired a 15% ownership interest in Singapore Marine, which was started up by Peter Weernink, the former chief executive of SwissMarine, through $10m in equity and $10m in a subordinated shareholder loan. The investment was then increased by another $10.2m.

It also has a 15% interest in a bunkering venture with Trafigura and Frontline, Mr Fredriksen's tanker unit.

Ms Vartdal, who grew up on the west coast of Norway, correctly predicted a dramatic recovery in capesize spot rates in the third quarter following increased availability of iron ore from Vale's facilities in Brazil.

The first half of the year was marred by much lower volumes than expected due to supply issues in Brazil and Australia.

Despite challenging dry bulk markets, Ms Vartdal, who is a regular speaker at various shipping events, has been able to hand out dividends to shareholders over the past several quarters.

She studied engineering in physics and mathematics in Norway and then spent a year in Edinburgh, Scotland, gaining a masters degree in financial maths, before joining shipping company Klaveness in 2004.

While her exposure to shipping was limited to her father’s fishing business when growing up, it was through her risk management job at Klaveness that she learned about chartering and commercial operations, eventually managing a team of 16 people. 

However, the humble Ms Vartdal found an offer to join Golden Ocean "irresistible", she said in a podcast with shipping journalist Lena Gothberg.

She moved there as chief financial officer in 2010 and, six years later, she became chief executive, taking over at a time of dismal rates in the sector.

"I have had 10 fantastic years with Golden Ocean and I am pleased with the development of the company during this period,” Ms Vartdal said in a statement announcing her resignation.

She added: "The company is now in a solid financial position, and has just delivered its best quarterly result since 2013, and is well prepared ahead of IMO 2020.

"I am proud of what all our dedicated and knowledgeable colleagues have created, and I am confident that Golden Ocean has a bright future."

 Golden Ocean owns 77 vessels and is one of the largest listed dry bulk companies around. It reported a net profit of $36.7m in the third quarter versus a loss of $33.1m a year earlier.

Ms Vartdal also appeared in the Top 100 in 2017 and 2018.


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