France Business Report 2018

Presented by

Discovery Reports

Louis Dreyfus Armateurs turns the tide with creative and cutting-edge maritime solutions

LDA seeks to develop its current Asian foothold and expand into other markets in the region

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2018, 9:22am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2018, 9:22am

[Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports]

Accounting for roughly 90 per cent of world trade, shipping is the engine of the global economy – a dynamic industry fraught with constant changes and challenges. As the world evolves, so too does seaborne trade – supersized ships are built to outsize older models every year and technologies continuously emerge to boost efficiency in ways better than before.

With nearly 170 years of expertise in maritime transport and related services, private French group Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) proves its resilience in an industry subject to the ebbs and swells of a fluctuating world economy.

A trusted global name in logistics innovation, value-added maritime industrial services and dry bulk transport since 1893, the family-owned group plays a leading role in the advancement of the shipping and maritime industry.

From inventing remote vehicles for laying undersea cables, engineering a new kind of ship unmoved by high winds and high seas for Airbus, to designing customised windmill-maintenance ships for Danish utility firm DONG Energy, LDA keeps afloat by keeping an eye ahead on the future.

“Shipping is not only about transportation – shipping will be more about activities at sea, everything from cabling to seismic operations and renewable energy logistics,” says Philippe Louis-Dreyfus, chairman. “We believe that the future will be less in dry bulk transport and more in hi-tech, sophisticated shipping, where we currently do our business.”

Initially and primarily engaged in worldwide dry bulk transport through LD Bulk, its full-fledged subsidiary, LDA has since strategically diversified its business into activities such as port logistics, hi-tech industrial shipping and creative shipping services.

We believe that the future will be less in dry bulk transport and more in hi-tech, sophisticated shipping, where we currently do our business
Philippe Louis-Dreyfus, chairman

With a global presence and around 3,000 seagoing and office-based personnel, LDA is currently a wholly integrated shipowner, offering all services from ship design to maritime operations – including tailor-made industrial maritime solutions to meet clients’ needs in project management and financial engineering, new buildings and conversions, fleet management, quality and security.

LDA has developed high value-added industrial partnerships with major players for hi-tech, niche services ranging from submarine cable laying to heavy and specialised cargo transport and offshore seismic research.

In a joint venture with Norwegian company Leif Höegh, the group commissioned the Ville de Bordeaux – the first ship specialised in the transport of A380 aircraft components – for Airbus Industrie. Three other ships came afterwards, but now LDA alone is in charge.

The group also laid and repaired fibre-optic cables in water depths of up to 8,000 metres as part of a joint venture formed in 2000 with Alcatel-Lucent – France’s largest telecommunications company sold to Nokia in 2015.

“We don’t wait for people to ask us – we go see them and propose what we have imagined for them,” Louis-Dreyfus says. “We imagined renewable energy logistics five years ago and have advanced it since then. Our competitive strength is that we’re real people – we do what we say and do it well. We stick to our commitments.”

Present in Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines, LDA seeks to develop its current Asian foothold and expand into other markets in the region such as Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam over the next three to five years through long-term partnerships with other companies.

Focused on partnerships as a strategy for growth, LDA has partnered with family-owned companies around the world such as Sinar Mas/Widjaja (Indonesia), Agarwal (India), Peugeot (France) and Grimaldi (Italy).

The group is also optimistic about its development of new Handymax vessels in Singapore with a local partner – a project that will expand LD Bulk’s modern fleet of 30 bulk carriers ranging from Handysize ships to Panamax vessels.

“To be in business this long means keeping our stamina, spirit, level of activity and reputation alive over generations,” Louis-Dreyfus says. “We’re a very old company but with a new approach to the facts of business and to the changes in society.”