Diego Aponte, the Vice President of Mediterranean Shipping Company has given his first interview to Turkish Maritime Magazine.
Diego Aponte, the Vice President of Mediterranean Shipping Company has answered the questions of Recep Canpolat, the Executive Editor of ?stanbul News Agency and Turkish Maritime Magazine and Cem Direni? Ate?o?ullar?, London Representative of Deniz News Agency.
Billion dollar investment by MSC in Turkey
Diego Aponte, the Vice President of Mediterranean Shipping Company, which is one of the leading ship owners and shipping lines, welcomed Recep Canpolat, the Executive Editor of ?stanbul News Agenct and Cem Direni? Ate?o?ullar?, London Representative of Deniz News Agency to MSC Center in Geneva and responded to their questions.
Giving his first interview to the press, MSC Vice President Diego Aponte indicated that he preferred a Turkish journalist due to his ties of affection to Turkey.
Dear Diego Aponte, first of all thank you very much for giving your first interview and choosing us for the interview. Would you please give some information about MSC Group?
Neither I, nor my father has given an interview to the press yet. You are the very first. The reason for that is our tie of affection to Turkey. The foundation of MSC dates back to 1900s. Our family corporation was established in 1927. We are an Italian origin family. Regarding our roots, we have a maritime history of 250 years. Maritime is in our blood. My grandfather was a seaman, my father was a captain as you know. They did cargo carrying back then. In the first period they worked with their partners as trap operators. They bought their first cargo vessel ?Rafaela? in 1950. My father and my grandfather had previously chartered ships, but after the purchase they started shipping line operation. Our company entered upon a separation point between dry cargo shipping and container shipping. After carrying out a depth analysis in this matter, the decision was made on container shipping. We have brought Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) to these days with a strong team, especially with my father Gianluigi Aponte, keeping our shoulder to the wheel. While we were a team of few people at the beginning, now we are a big team consisting of 40 thousand people. My father endeavored a lot for MSC"s present existence. He is both the President and the Chairman of the company. Because he is also a captain, he means everything to MSC.
MSC is one of the biggest container shipping lines of the world. What is the present capacity of it?
The capacity of Mediterranean Shipping Company in 2010 was 1.800.000 TEU and we target 2 million TEU in 2011. We serve our customers by 405 vessels in our fleet with different capacities. MSC is the second biggest container operator in the world.
Mr Aponte, global crisis hits container market first and container operators feel the crisis first. Therewithal, container operators come out of the crisis first as well. How did you manage the global crisis as MSC?
You are right Mr Canpolat. Container operators were the ones who were most affected by the crisis. We lost a lot of money in the crisis. However, we don"t ship only in East-West routes. We also ship in North-South routes. We ballasted well and as management we formulated new strategies analyzing the crisis well. First of all we cancelled the orders. Afterwards we sent our old ships to ship breaking. We declared off Time-Charter ship operations. Due to the fact that the market is a supply and demand market, it is necessary to act logically and to go over the capacity in view of real trading volume in order to survive and to stand in crisis periods. All of the shipping lines, notably our rivals, such as Hapag Lloyd and Maersk rearranged their capacity. When no shipping lines gave no new orders in 2008 and 2009, it was poised. While last year 5 containers navigated to the USA and one container got out, now 5 vessels navigate to the USA and 5 vessels get out. Considering long term, we have received a more steady trade. Today I look at shipping market in the future more confident.
How do you think of current maritime commerce?
There are improvements in North-South, East-West lines. Production based growth continues in the world. Laid-up vessels are started to be put in journeys. There is a rapid increase in value of container vessels. In the last month, the value of container vessels increased over 30 percent. Since the banks grant no loan, there won"t be any new ship orders. It is not possible to catch India, China and the Far East. You may count Turkey, Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea as well. Consumption will go on. Supply and demand will become intense.
What are your opinions about growth?
Growth will continue, because GDP is on the rise. The World Bank has announced 3,5 percent growth. This means 3,5 percent growth in trade and around 13 percent growth in world shipping trade. Today we are experiencing a commercial growth but we also experience a decrease in the capacity.
Now that the adjustments have started, will you give new ship orders?
As of company policy, we don"t intend to. However, the ships are being constructed right now, which will be delivered in 2011 and whose orders we gave aforetime. The global crisis decreased vessel prices a lot. Now it is being rearranged. But we need to have a complete sight. The orders we gave to South Korea and China before global crisis will be delivered between 2011 and 2012. We gave 5 percent of the orders to China and 95 percent of the orders to South Korea.
I would like to come to particular issue from MSC"s global issue. Can you acquaint us with your investments in Turkey? Especially, you were interested in Derince regarding port operations but you gave up then. Why?
We trust Turkey. We have a very good settlement. We will continue growing in Turkey. Before the crisis, we had contacts in Turkey related to port operating. We were in negotiations with Türkerler Group for Derince Port. But the global crisis didn"t let such a partnership. We thought that the equivalent of our investment will be hard. Thus, our priority didn"t cover ports due to economic factors. We are ready to operate in shipping in full capacity. Certainly we are intensely working on port operating in Turkey. Our ?Asiaport? Project is still in progress.
I'd like to mention Asiaport Project. There was a delay in Asiaport. When do you plan to put it into operation? Do you also intend to operate Asiaport as a hub port?
Our operations about Asiaport are going on. We plan to put it into operation in 2012. There were some delays due to some legislations. But we solved all problems. We think of Asiaport as a hub port for Black Sea shippings. Asiaport is going to be a big project for Turkey. We will employ approximately two thousand people. With Asiaport there will be a boom in the region. We will provide working area for 10 thousand people in total. As you know, the ships coming from the Far East can"t pass Turkish Straits, because they are over 300 meters length. The ships coming from the East Mediterranean, Beirut and Italy will do cargo handling at Asiaport. The capacity of Asiaport, which will be one of Turkey"s biggest ports, will be 1.800.000 TEU. This project will provide activity for Turkey.
What is the reason that you chose Turkey for the port project? There are many countries in Mediterranean basin. There should be a reason for this. Can you explain it to us?
Ahmet Soyuer, a businessman from Tekirda?, Turkey, is my father-in-law. We told him that we were looking for a port area in the region and asked for his help. Thanks to his intensive efforts, we determined the current area of Asiaport. Needless to say that there are many other countries at the Mediterranean to build a port, we could have built this port in Malta or in Greece. But we chose Turkey, because we have ties of affection with Turkey. We love and trust Turkey.
Are you interested in other ports, except Asiaport, which are in privatizing process? For instance, ?zmir Alsancak Port has been privatized, but the group, which won the tender, gave up. Are you interested in ?zmir Port?
Mr Canpolat, actually we are not interested in privatized ports. We need to analyze privatized ports" situations. The equivalent of our investment is very important. We are not interested in ?zmir Port. ?zmir Port is in the city now. It has no chance to expand and to grow. ?zmir Port should to be planned again. Due to the fact that it is in the city, I think it will be better that ?zmir Port serves as a cruise port. As MSC, we left ?zmir and canalized to Alia?a. Alia?a appears to be a new attractive field.
Mr Aponte, I would like to talk about cruise issue. One of MSC"s significant bases of MSC is MSC Cruise. You have 11 ships at the moment. Will there be new orders and lines?
Certainly there are and will be. Unfortunately I can"t inform you due to company policy. Still I can say that MSC Cruise fleet will have 12 cruises in 2012. We target growing with the market together. We have weekly journeys to Turkey. We may start new lines according to supply and demand.
There is another thing I wonder. We saw that Italian actress Sophia Loren showed up in new built ships" launching ceremonies. Does it have a special reason? Why did you choose Sophia Loren?
As you know, we are a family of Italian origin. Sophia Loren is our family friend. We believe that Mrs Loren brings good luck to us. She is a very sweet person. Imagine her as MSC Cruise"s Angel of Fortune. Sophia Loren has been the one who names our ships. We are also proud of her, because she is representing our family.