Hong Kong's Anglo-Eastern Ship Management has formed a strategic partnership with global tanker operator Teekay to pave the way for the creation of a joint ship management firm overseeing part of Teekay's fleet.
The joint operation, which will handle about 50 of Teekay's conventional oil tankers, will be one of the world's largest pacts between an independent ship management company and a shipowner.
Anglo-Eastern and Teekay confirmed the tie-up in notices sent in the past few days to their customers.
Anglo-Eastern chief executive Peter Cremers and chief operating officer Marcel Liedts said in their note to clients: 'We have entered into a strategic partnership with Teekay Corporation, via a memorandum of understanding, through which we will assist Teekay in evolving their ship management activities in a stand-alone, cost competitive company, using tested Anglo-Eastern Group systems. As a part of this alliance, the crew management and training logistics for Teekay seafarers will be integrated with Anglo-Eastern Group companies.'
They added: 'The new Teekay majority-owned company will operate under a Teekay name. The bulk of the employees will be sourced from Teekay entities, but to enable a proper transfer of Anglo-Eastern management know-how, key positions will be taken up by Anglo-Eastern appointees. Further involvement from our side will be at board level.'
Cremers told the South China Morning Post: 'Most of the staff will be from Teekay, but some senior positions will be taken up by Anglo-Eastern or ex-Anglo-Eastern staff.' He declined to comment further, saying the situation was sensitive.
The move is part of a restructuring of Teekay, still to be publicly announced but expected to involve the closure of its Houston office and scaling down activities at its operational headquarters in Vancouver.
Teekay made a net loss of US$20.8 million in the first quarter of this year and reported an adjusted net loss of US$103.1 million for 2011.
The Anglo-Eastern-Teekay operation is expected to have its own offices in Glasgow and Singapore, where Anglo-Eastern's existing tanker management operations for other owners are based.
The move is seen as a significant triumph for Anglo-Eastern, which is ranked among the top five global ship management companies. The firm, which has a network of 18 ship management, crew training and support offices and more than 16,000 seamen and shore staff, provides crew and oversees the day-to-day operations of more than 400 ships owned by international owners.
New York-listed Teekay operates about 150 tankers, which it has managed in-house with a staff of 6,300 sea- and land-based personnel.
'Teekay has traditionally managed its fleet in-house, so forming a partnership with a third-party ship manager marks a major sea change in attitude in the way it should manage its tanker operations,' said one observer familiar with the industry. 'Running a fleet of tankers is a complex and costly business, especially as it involves complying with a myriad of tough, ever-changing regulatory controls imposed by governments and oil companies. Recognising that a third-party ship manager could help a company like Teekay operate those ships more cost-effectively and efficiently marks a big culture change.'
Another Hong Kong shipping executive said: 'It makes a lot of sense from Teekay's point of view. Costs are under pressure. If I was Teekay, I would want to find out if I was doing the right things.'