Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Container Shipping Line Boss Sets Out Vision Whilst Zim Offers New Service

K Line Chief Outlines Responsibilities and Objectives for the Future
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN – PARAGUAY – WORLDWIDE – As many CEO’s report at the start of a New Year, K Line President & CEO, Jiro Asakura, has set out his vision of where the company intends to go and how he means to achieve this. Firstly though in other box line news this week Zim Line has announced the recommencement of its container shipping service to Paraguay. Zim will be serving the port of Asuncion via a barge service connecting to Montevideo, Uruguay and onward through the company’s global and regional network to all the major trade routes.

At K Line, after a preamble précising the world’s financial condition as he sees it, Mr Asakura confirmed the company will only produce third quarter figures for 2013 at the end of January together with estimates for the last part of the year. Like all other box carriers K Line has seen many reforms in an attempt to streamline the operation and the President says slow steaming has resulted in better than anticipated savings in the company’s fuel bill.

K Line’s current three year plan was aimed at riding out the forecast of a collapse in the shipping market but Mr Asakura says the group is now going on the offensive to promote growth, commenting:

“We are exposed to relentless international competition on a daily basis. In light of these factors, it is crucial that we make radical changes to our traditional structure and methods to remain in the race. I hope to leverage your strengths and competencies to take our company in a better direction starting in 2014.

“As a first step in our offensive management strategy, we decided to resume investments in our strengths in 2013. We announced plans to build eight car carriers, with a maximum capacity to carry 7,500 cars. In the Dry Bulk Business, we are positively moving forward with the construction of a large iron ore carrier and coal carrier, which has a 25% improved fuel economy, in comparison with existing ships. In the Energy Transportation Business, we acquired contracts for three LNG carriers in 2013, and in the New Year, we are expecting to secure contracts for a shale gas-related transport project that is currently under negotiation.

“In the Containership Business, in the first half of 2013, we decided to build five 14,000 TEU ULCVs (Ultra Large Container Vessels). We placed our orders at the best time possible. These cutting-edge vessels will all be in the water from 2015 to 2016, and I am confident they will contribute to a major recovery in earnings.”

K Line also intends to follow the lead of other traditional shipping groups by expanding its interests in the field of energy research and recovery with an investigation into investment in offshore support vessels, drillships, FPSO’s, and subsea construction vessels. The President however finished on a rather stern note of caution which strikes at the very heart of how Japanese companies are viewed by many around the world, emphasising his company’s avowed policy to improve the work-life balance for its workforce. Saying this equilibrium is a key social component fully supported by all Senior Executives, Mr Asakura concluded:

“This [the work-life balance] is the source of one’s energy and vitality. In the new fiscal year, I would like to take this movement to the next level and produce results without fail. Although this too is a very basic issue, it is also extremely important. I would once again like to ask that everyone make sure they fully adhere to legal compliance mandates. There are those statutes and regulations that should be obeyed as an adult.

“However, I am referring to laws and social standards, including those which regulate competition and prevent corrupt business practices that must obeyed by all means in the course of conducting your work duties. I have previously spoken about this on several occasions but would like to mention it once again. Please undertake your tasks without forgetting to conform to laws and regulations, in other words compliance, which is the fundamental requirement for all corporate activities.”

Photo: K Line President & CEO, Jiro Asakura, reveals his vision of the future.