Case: Global towage operations with a platform for growth
The joint venture between SMIT and Kotug for the European harbor towage services announced in December 2014 forms the last building block of our towage joint venture strategy. We now have five joint ventures providing harbour towage and terminal services, giving us a prominent presence on all continents. We provide our services to clients in more than 90 major ports in 35 countries. The joint venture fleet of 450 ships and around 4,500 experienced crew generates a revenue of approximately 1 billion US dollars. This places us among the top global operators and provides us with a strong platform for further growth.
Keppel Smit Towage
The origins of our towage activities lie in Rotterdam with our subsidiary SMIT. Long before its takeover by Boskalis in 2010 SMIT already had a presence in major ports on several continents, with for example the Keppel Smit Towage joint venture in Southeast Asia having been a stable and reliable partner in the ports of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia for many years now. We have built up a strong position in this region and are expanding our activities where possible.
Following the acquisition of SMIT we pursued our plan to establish more regional joint ventures for the towage and terminal activities. The establishment of Smit Lamnalco in 2011, resulting from the merger of Lamnalco and the terminal activities of SMIT, was the .rst major step. This combined company traditionally focuses on the Middle East and West Africa, providing terminal services to the oil and gas industry. Smit Lamnalco is well equipped to operate in remote areas under challenging conditions against the highest standards applicable in the oil and gas industry. Our Corporate Business Plan 2014-2016 states that we aim for further growth through consolidation and that we are prepared to invest in this. It is our view that the activities have more clout when they are placed at arm’s length in joint ventures.
These activities generate a stable cash flow, which means that they are able to raise capital independently in order to .nance growth. A good example of this is Smit Lamnalco’s recent acquisition of PB Towage, the second-largest provider of towage services in Australia. We envisage a new cluster of activities emerging in this region for Smit Lamnalco, which is already active in Papua New Guinea and Gladstone in Australia.
SAAM SMIT Towage
Our harbour towage services have a prominent presence in the Americas through our SAAM SMIT Towage joint venture, established in July 2014. The new combined company is active in all the major ports of Brazil, Mexico, Panama and on the west coast of Canada. The merger has created a leading regional player with a great ability to respond to developments in the market. In addition, SAAM SMIT Towage is able to benefit from the economies of scale resulting from the merger.
We had been on the lookout for a good partner in Europe for some time. The announcement in December 2014 of our intention to form a partnership with Kotug is the realization of our ambitions to extend the effective and ef.cient provision of our towage services to clients in the major ports of Northwest Europe. We expect to further shape this partnership in 2015.
Stable market, stable cash flow
The global market for towage services is a stable and mature market, which enables our towage activities and terminal services to generate a stable cash flow. The fleet is relatively young, which means that no major replacement investments are needed. There are, however, differences between the two activities. In the ports we provide harbour towage services to a large number of clients, usually under short-term contracts which are primarily governed by availability and price. By contrast, at oil and gas terminals we supply a range of services to a single client (the terminal operator), often at remote locations. In addition to towage services we provide pilotage, maintenance and firefighting services. These contracts are often long term, sometimes for periods longer than 10 years.
The stable cash flow enables the joint ventures to .nance themselves very ef.ciently with a relatively high proportion of debt, which has a positive impact on the return on invested capital. It also enables the joint ventures to effectively achieve independent growth and development.
Based on full year 2014 and a 100 per cent interest, the combined key figures of the Towage activities were:
Included are the European activities of SMIT, SMIT Americas (Q1 and Q2) and the joint ventures SAAM SMIT Towage (Q3 and Q4), Keppel Smit Towage and Smit Lamnalco all on a 100 per cent basis. Including the activities of PB Towage and the intended joint venture with Kotug, the total revenue amounts to approximately 1 billion US dollars in 2014.
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