AS A senior executive of shipbuilder and shipowner STX, Lee Jong-chul is among the few people who have a perspective on both sectors, in particular on the damage done following the ordering frenzy over the last three or four years.
Mr Lee is STX Corp vice-chairman in charge of STX Offshore and Shipbuilding and vice-chairman and chief executive of containership and bulk operator STX Pan Ocean.
Surveying the impact wrought by the boom in the shipping markets, he is particularly angry at the part played by speculative owners who have treated ships and ship orders as asset plays, disrupting healthy growth in the shipping sector.
Likening their actions to gamblers, he questions why the shipping industry should “accept that kind of wrong behaviour. We need businessmen and women not gamblers. We have to expel the gamblers.”
He is especially scornful of South Korean, Chinese and European owners that ordered vessels and then, as he describes it, “intentionally defaulted” on the deals when the shipping market collapsed.
As a result, Mr Lee cannot “find any distinction between criminals and those in the shipping industry. What makes me angry is that they will come back in two or three years”.
He says: “The downturn happened at the right time.” He adds that he is fearful that if the shipping cycle is prolonged by more than a couple of years, how will the industry be able to differentiate the serious players from the speculators and gamblers?
Source: Lloyd’s List