Friday, April 24, 2015

A Rising Tide Raises All Ships. Block the Boat Irrelevant

The international shipping industry did not fare well during the global economic downturn. After years of losses, shipping firms were struggling. Global shipper TMT Group filed for bankruptcy protection last June.  South Korea's STX Pan Ocean filed for court receivership.  PT Berlian Laju Tanker of Indonesia narrowly avoided bankruptcy. Zim shipping underwent re-organization and restructuring.

In the face of these formidable financial struggles, last summer’s anti-Israel protests at the West coast docks, attracting anywhere from a half dozen to several hundred people  hardly registered a blip on the radar screen. Nonetheless, anti-Israel activists under the moniker “Block the boat’ happily took credit for Zim’s reorganization and consolidation.

Last June, Zim abandoned its Asia-North America trade route, after accumulating over 450 million in loses from 2011-2013.  Block the boat activist  tooted their “direct action” as the catalyst for this routine business decision that was years in the making,

But a rising tide raises all ships.

According to Reuters,

The shipping industry is poised to emerge from its longest downturn in three decades, buoyed by an end to years of overcapacity that have depressed freight rates since the end of a shipping boom in 2008.

 Zim’s financials have also rebounded dramatically since their restructuring

From JOC

“There will be a positive bottom line this year,” says Rafi Danieli, CEO of Zim Integrated Shipping Services, the Israeli ocean carrier that is finally emerging from seven straight years of mounting losses and a multibillion-dollar restructuring that saved it from bankruptcy.

In an interview with in London, the 37-year Zim veteran exudes confidence that the Haifa-based carrier will be among the most profitable in the industry within four years.

Zim’s trajectory changed dramatically following a hard-fought $3.4 billion restructuring struck last July, including a $1.4 billion debt-for-equity swap that halved its interest payments and paved the way for a return to profitability.

The deal also left Zim in the control of its creditors of banks, bond holders and charter ship owners who now own 62 percent of the company, with the balance held by the former owner Israel Corp.
The company downsized dramatically during the drawn-out restructuring negotiations in a bid to cut losses that have ballooned to $1.5 billion in the past four years.

The slimmed-down, financially revamped “new” Zim can finally focus fully on operational targets of boosting efficiency, finessing customer service and relationships, sharpening its sales efforts and expanding the cargo base on core routes, according to Danieli.

Zim is targeting growth in the Asia-North and Central America market, which already accounts for some 40 percent of its revenue, and in the fast-growing and profitable intra-Asia market.

Don't bother the Free Palestine Movement with the facts of their own irrelevancy, though. They have joined forces with  the  International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza to present a workshop on stopping Zim ships at the World Social Forum in Tunis.

We suspect they'll be as successful with this as they've been with their other ventures.

A rising tide raises all ships. Block the Boat and the Free Palestine movement are equally irrelevant to Zim's failures, and to Zim's successes.

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