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J. Lauritzen chief steps down as business units are split

Danish dry bulk and tanker owner J. Lauritzen is splitting its business units into separate entities. Amid the changes, chief executive Mads Zacho steps down

J. Lauritzen has been split into two independent companies, with each business to have its own financing, management team and board of directors

J. LAURITZEN, a Danish owner and operator, has split its tanker and dry bulk business units into separate entities. 

As part of the changes, group chief executive Mads Peter Zacho will be stepping down, the company said in a statement.

Mr Zacho, who has served as chief for more than four years, will be available to the group for the next two months, after which he will seek other opportunities, either an operational job within shipping or outside the sector. 

“I don’t have anything lined up,” he told Lloyd’s List in an interview, adding that he rather enjoyed his time in shipping. 

“When we made the decision to separate the units, it was a natural solution that I step down — there are no surprises there,” he said, adding that while he is free over the summer, he plans to enjoy a family holiday, either within Europe or in Denmark, as some normality is returning following lockdown measures to contain the global pandemic. 

Speaking from his home, Mr Zacho said the split has been linked to the fact that potential investors will want a pure exposure to the gas tanker market.

“For quite some time, we wanted Lauritzen Kosan to consolidate in the gas tanker segment. There have been numerous discussions but these are on the back-burner now due to the financial crisis and the coronavirus crisis,” he said. 

“There is nothing concrete at the moment to announce,” he added. 

The tankers unit (Lauritze Kosan) and the dry bulk unit (Lauritzen Bulkers) have different needs and organizational setups, so it made sense to split them.

Both companies, which are “hugely engaged and experienced,” have now been refinanced with long-term financing from four core Nordic banks, the company said.

They have “a strong footing going forward,” Mr Zacho said. “I am proud of the strength of the organisation and platform.” 

Thomas Wøidemann, head of the tankers unit, and Niels Josefsen, who leads the bulker division, will report to newly established boards for each company. J. Lauritzen’s current general counsel Dorte Rolf will become managing director of a new holding company.

“I am pleased that the plan we have worked on since last year has been successfully implemented,” Mr Zacho said in the statement. “We have refinanced the group in the middle of the corona crisis, which shows the strength of J. Lauritzen’s relationships to our core banks.”

J. Lauritzen’s chairman Tommy Thomsen said: “As owners of both Lauritzen Kosan and Lauritzen Bulkers, we are pleased to see these plans fall into place and we give thanks to Mads Peter Zacho for leading this strategy to completion.

“We now have a clear and durable structure, where each of the two businesses can use their strong market presence to compete efficiently and grow in their respective segments.”

*Separately, J. Lauritzen announced the death of Rolf Andersen, fleet manager at the company’s Lauritzen Kosan unit. Mr Andersen, who was a J. Lauritzen board member, passed away last week, according to a statement.

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