Maersk Line names Rizwan Soomar to head its India unit

Maersk Line names Rizwan Soomar to head its India unit

Bangalore: Maersk Line, a division of AP Moller-Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipping firm, has named Rizwan Soomar as the new country manager for India and Sri Lanka, as part of a global strategy to return to profits.

Rizwan will take over from Hans-Ole Madsen as managing director of Maersk India Pvt. Ltd in December, said a company memo.

Rizwan, the first Indian national to be managing director of Maersk India since the Danish group started operations here in August 1990, is presently the Maersk Line’s country manager in Egypt.

Moller-Maersk’s container shipping business, which contributed more than half of its annual turnover of $51 billion (Rs2.4 trillion) in 2007, has been losing money following its 2005 takeover of Royal P&O Nedlloyd NV, then world’s third biggest container shipping firm, for €2.3 billion.

To concentrate on container shipping, Maersk separated its global container inland services and logistics activities from Maersk Line in a cost-cutting programme announced earlier this year.

The reorganization of Maersk Line resulted in the layoff of about 15% of the unit’s 25,000 employees. A few middle-level executives at its India unit left the comany while a few others moved on to other locations within the group.

Maersk Line, which runs a fleet of 225 ships it owns and operates another 248 taken on hire, returned to profit during the first half of the year, notching a post-tax profit of $73 million, against a first half loss of $219 million last year, on revenues of $14 billion.

Despite reporting a loss in the first half of 2007, the group’s container shipping and related business recovered to notch post-tax profit of $217 million for the full year, following a loss of $568 million in 2006.

After a six-year stint as managing director, Maersk India, and regional head for South Asia, Hans-Ole Madsen will take up a senior position at APM Terminals International BV, the container terminal operating unit of AP Moller-Maersk. Madsen could not be reached for comments.

The Netherlands-based APM Terminals is the world’s third biggest container port operator after Hutchison Port Holdings Ltd owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li-ka Shing and Singapore’s PSA International Pte Ltd.

APM Terminals owns Pipavav port in Gujarat. The group also runs a 1.3 million TEU-a year capacity terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India’s biggest container facility. TEU, or 20-foot equivalent unit, is an industry measure of cargo containers.

A Maersk Line spokesman declined to comment.

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