“There’s more innovation to come”: Meet Maersk Tankers’ Chief Investment Officer
Claus Gronborg, Chief Investment Officer at Maersk Tankers, is talking as the company has recently announced a deal to sell six Long-Range 2 (LR2) vessels on behalf of Maersk Product Tankers.
This is just the latest of 30-plus transactions completed since the combined asset management and strategic growth function was established in January 2020.
“The market has been challenging over the past few years, but we have managed to find solutions and deliver great returns to our investors,” says Gronborg. “We harness our vast shipping expertise and market insight to decide when is the best time to buy and sell to capture market opportunities and manage risk. We apply a rigid investment framework, combined with experience and talented people."
Managing the assets of Maersk Product Tankers is just one – admittedly critical – part of Gronborg’s job. Currently, Maersk Product Tankers’ total assets amount to close to USD 1.5bn. The Chief Investment Officer is also responsible for exploring new revenue streams and developing new solutions for and with partners. The latter includes the pressing need to decarbonise the industry.
“We have a clear purpose, vast amounts of knowhow and scale in our company to bring to bear on finding solutions that enable shipowners to get greater economic and environmental performance out of their ships,” he says.
Gronborg points to a strategic partnership with Cargill, which launched earlier this month, for a new bunker fuel procurement service: “From being two medium-sized players, we have pooled our resources to become one of the biggest bunker buyers in the world, which means we can offer shipowners and operators a better service and more competitive prices.”
Forming deeper relationships with existing partners – and developing new partnerships with shipowners and investors – is key to Maersk Tankers’ future prosperity. “With our expertise and experience, we understand the challenges our partners face to decarbonise while maintaining healthy financial returns,” he says.
Gronborg has worked for A.P. Moller – Maersk for two decades and, for the past 14 years, at Maersk Tankers. In January 2020, he was appointed Chief Investment Officer.
It has been a fulfilling experience. Shipping, he says, is “an international, dynamic industry that, in many ways, never stands still”.
A passion for learning led to a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese from Beijing Language and Culture University while Gronborg was working in China. A few years later, he added an Executive MBA from Columbia Business School and the London Business School.
As Chief Commercial Officer at Maersk Tankers from 2016, Gronborg pioneered data and algorithm-based solutions in the chartering team to support more digitally enabled commercial decision-making. Under his leadership, the company saw an increase in earnings and the satisfaction of shipowners in its pools, and a 25% annual growth in the number of vessels under commercial management.
“The company challenges both the industry and ourselves as individuals on how things are done. We’ve managed to transform ourselves as a company again and again.”
And there has been no let up in the company’s drive to innovate. “In the past few years,” he continues, “Maersk Tankers has turned itself into a digitally enabled service company – and there’s more innovation to come.”
Gronborg believes the most fundamental transformation is yet to come, as “shipping needs to find a way to move to a zero-carbon world”.
As the manager of 236 vessels on behalf of shipowners, Maersk Tankers can be part of this transformation, argues Gronborg. “Our business is built on maximising the ships’ efficiency for the benefit of both the partner and the planet.”
About Maersk Tankers
Maersk Tankers is a leading player in the product tanker industry, operating one of the largest fleets of vessels and employing 3,000 employees worldwide. Established in 1928, Maersk Tankers has more than nine decades of experience and expertise in commercial and technical vessel management, providing partners with solutions that generate greater economic and environmental performance and customers with safe, efficient and flexible services.