The tanker shipping company Uni-Tankers, which is part of Torben Østergaard-Nielsen’s USTC Group, is busy gearing for the future and positioning itself in the best possible way in relation to the market. The process kicked off in 2018 and has since then resulted in several new initiatives.
Over the past months, Uni-Tankers has conducted a widescale review of the company’s strategy. The process, that has included a detailed assessment of all strategic elements, has been carried out to ensure that the plan is explicit – both in relation to the market and the development of the company.
“This is, of course, an ongoing process, but the main areas of the strategy are now in place. This applies, among other things, to the segments where Uni-Tankers will be working in future – both in terms of products, customers, geography, ship type and size and, not least, the age of the individual ship,” says owner Torben Østergaard-Nielsen.
Streamlining and optimisation
Furthermore, Uni-Tankers has completed an extensive Lean-process with the support from an international consulting group to optimise the business at all levels. The result of this process has been translated into several initiatives with the overall aim to raise efficiency. The many initiatives, that are continuously being implemented, have already started to show the expected positive outcome.
During the Lean-process, the organisation has also been adjusted, with the company saying goodbye to former CEO Torben Andersen shortly before year-end. Subsequently, an international recruitment firm with experience in shipping was given the task of finding the right candidate to head Uni-Tankers. Both internal and external candidates were considered, and after extensive research, the choice has fallen on the company’s own COO/CCO Per Ekmann, who has been interim CEO since the start of the year.
Per Ekmann will officially become new CEO of Uni-Tankers as of 1 May 2019. It’s a task he’s very much looking forward to:
“I’m both happy and proud to have the opportunity to lead the way forward at this important stage in the company’s history. Uni-Tankers is based on proud and strong values, and with the recent implemented changes, the foundation is in place to realise our strategy together with our skilled employees,” says Per Ekmann.
In future, the Uni-Tankers Executive Board will comprise Per Ekmann, CEO, and Thomas Thomsen, CFO.
“Per is a strong commercial force with a clear management style and a proven ability to execute. I’m convinced that he will be able to develop the company in accordance with the agreed plan, and at the same time exploit market opportunities,” says Torben Østergaard-Nielsen on the appointment of Uni-Tankers’ new CEO, adding: “Per brings many years of experience in shipping, and a deep insight in Uni-Tankers’ niche area within chemical tankers. This combined with the fact that Per has already been part of the Uni-Tankers executive board for several years gives him an in-depth understanding of the company’s business model and potential.”
The many initiatives aimed at optimising the organisation also included a review of all internal functions. This was done to ensure optimal utilisation of existing resources as well as bringing additional competences on board.
In this context, Peter Stokbro, former technical director at Navig8 Group, joined as Technical Director for Uni-Tankers’ combined operations, consisting of the technical department as well as procurement and logistics, staffing and a nautical department. Similarly, other key functions have been strengthened with new, external and internal candidates, so that the company now has the right organisation to carry out its strategy.
As a further basis for implementing the company’s strategic goals, Uni-Tankers has recently been refinanced, which has involved the injection of new capital from USTC as well as a new, long-term financing plan. In addition to having created a sound basis for the company’s continued development, the refinancing has meant that the ownership of Uni-Tankers is once again completely back in the hands of USTC and Torben Østergaard-Nielsen. This comes after a period in which Danske Bank was a co-owner.
“It means a lot to us that the ownership has once again been fully transferred to USTC. Besides providing the best possible basis for the plans we have for the company, it also gives Uni-Tankers a stamp of approval within the industry and a high degree of stability and ballast.” says Per Ekmann.
However, the continued development of the tanker activities in Uni-Tankers calls for more than just the right strategy, a lean organisation and new financing. It is also necessary to see an improvement in the difficult market conditions of recent years, with low freight rates, fierce competition, high oil prices and an imbalance between supply and demand.
“Improving Uni-Tankers’ segment with small and intermediate ships has been long overdue compared to the larger ships such as MR and LR,” says Per Ekmann, adding: “However, we are now seeing the first tentative signs that the market is turning, and together with the potential offered by the future energy and environmental requirements for the industry – among other things IMO 2020 – I believe it will create the room for manoeuvre which our part of the tanker market has long been hankering for.”
For further information, please contact:
Per Ekmann, CEO
M: +45 60 37 39 57