Thursday, December 1, 2016

Week's Freight and Logistics Appointments Start with US Transport Secretary

Interesting Posting Leads Government Jobs Whilst Shenanigans in the Boardroom
Shipping News Feature

US – President-Elect Donald Trump plans to nominate former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to become the next Transportation Secretary. Chao, who was born in Taiwan and is the wife of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, also served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation between 1989 and 1991, during the George HW Bush administration. Trump has promised to spend $1 trillion on the country's currently crumbling infrastructure over the next 10 years but from where exactly he plans to get the money, and what it will be spent on, remains to be seen.

Likely the next administrations controversial views on climate change and environment protection will see a complete change in priorities from the outgoing Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx's focus on alternative fuels, as well as eliminating ‘burdensome regulations’. At least the transportation industry will get someone experienced leading the sector unlike other departments that have not been so lucky. More on this appointment in another story later today.

In a poacher turned gamekeeper move shipowner and distressed debt investor Wilbur Ross, has been nominated for Secretary of Commerce. Ross, who will be tasked with creating jobs and looking at the US’s trade deals, has his fingers in a lot of pies, making fortunes from investing in failing businesses, reorganising them then often selling to overseas investors to turn a profit, the very thing he will be trying to prevent.

US – Mark Lowe has been named as the interim Director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, effective since November 29, replacing Paul Trombino, who announced his resignation on November 10. Lowe has been Director of Iowa DOT's Motor Vehicle Division since 2009 and was previously the departments General Counsel.

US – Mitchell Daniels Jr. and Marcela Donadio have been elected directors of Norfolk Southern Corporation, effective since November 28. Daniels has been appointed to the Compensation Committee and the Governance and Nominating Committee of the Norfolk Southern board. Donadio has been appointed to the Finance and Risk Management Committee and the Audit Committee.

UK – Forth Ports has appointed Gavin Booth as its new Business Development Manager, to focus on oil and gas support and decommissioning activity. He will be based in Aberdeen in a new office where he will work across the Scottish operation.

UK – After more than 21 years with the Deutsche Post DHL Group, Perry Watts, CEO of DHL Supply Chain UK and Ireland will be retiring at the end of the year. Paul Dyer, currently President of Global Automotive at DHL Supply Chain, has been named to take over from Watts effective January 1, 2017.

UK – The Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) has announced David Furnival of Bernhard Schulte Ship Management as its new President. Christopher Bailey of BP Shipping has been named Vice President. Furnival succeeds Luc Gillet of TOTAL who has stepped down after a three-year term

UK – Victoria Foy has been appointed Managing Director of Safran Nacelles based in Burnley. Previously the company’s Finance Director, she succeeds the retiring Chris Plumb.

IRELAND – Milestone Aviation Group, a GE Capital Aviation Services Company, has announced that President Daniel Rosenthal has been named President and CEO, effective January 1, 2017. Richard Santulli, GE Officer and Milestone Chairman, will leave GE but continue to serve Milestone in an advisory capacity.

FRANCE – Douglas Owens has been appointed Secretary General of the Bureau International des Containers (BIC) after four years of service at the organisation. Owen’s promotion took effect on October 1 following the retirement of Bertrand Geoffray after 9 years with the BIC. Geoffray will continue to work with the organisation on special projects.

ISRAEL – Galooli has announced two new member to its team. Yaniv Maymon has been named as a Software Developer in the R&D team, and Victor Mishrov has been appointed Technical Support Manager (Fleet).

SINGAPORE – And so continue the staff changes at First Ship Lease Trust (FSL Trust). With the recent departure of Independent Director Simon Davidson who tendered his resignation stating his ‘unhappiness over the procedure and process of the appointment of, and the terms of reference for, the new CFO; in particular what he perceived as haste in the appointment’, FSL has taken the step to further clarify Davidson's decision as the Trust also announces two new appointments.

On September 6, Davidson accepted the capability and competence of the new CFO but two months later on November 8, Davidson left the company having also previously expressed his dissatisfaction in an email to board members on September 28, which centred on 5 main concerns:

  1. That while the CFO seemed competent, he was not the person to lead refinancing
  2. The CEO was not sufficiently consulted
  3. He was not present at the Board meeting of 22 September 2016 as he was travelling
  4. The candidate was a friend of the remuneration consultant
  5. The appointment was not urgent.

When the role of CFO became vacant on November 1, 2014, the functions were delegated to the CEO, Financial Controller, and other senior managers. However the Audit and Risk Committee Chairman felt that the role should be filled and this matter addressed.

Further, FSL clarified the reasons for the departure of Ebsen Poulsson, who tendered his resignation on September 27, the day before Davidson's email. With these departures in such close succession, and with Poulsson leaving after a ‘strong disagreement with the Chairman and some members of the Board’, FSL explained that the disagreements arose over Poulsson's views relating to ‘what the Sponsor should do with its investment in the units of the Trust and shareholding in the Trustee-Manager which the Board considered were not matters within its purview’, adding that in matters relating to Human Resources, ‘disagreement rose when Poulsson changed his position frequently on decisions he had made and communicated to the board’.

Away from past matters, FSL announced the appointment of Michael Gray as the Lead Independent Director, effective since November 28. Gray is also the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee, a position he has held since May 2015. The Board also announced the promotion of Roger Woods to the position of Deputy Chief Executive Officer. Woods joined the Trust as the Chief Operating Officer on in September 2013.

Photo: Not the first appointment by an unusual President for Elaine Chao.