By Marek Grzybowski
The passenger, ro-ro and road transport market turned out to be more resistant to the economic situation than the sea transport of containers. This means that the Grimaldi Group can achieve its best-ever financial results this year, announced its managing director Emmanuel Grimaldi.
– Last year was the best in Grimaldi’s history – this year should be even better – says Rob Willmington, owner of the Grimaldi Group. This year’s economic result is the result of great market timing. Grimaldi drinks the cream that has been obtained as a result of the introduction of new services and modern ships. Linear transport outside European regions has been developed. The Grimaldi Group has entered the markets of Asia, Australasia and the Middle East. This move was the main accelerator of revenue growth in 2023. This was caused by a sharp increase in car exports from China. But an important factor strengthening the shipowner’s position on the market was the introduction of large, ecological ships into operation.
Innovative PCTC in the Grimaldi portfolio
After a good 2022 with an EBIT of EUR 1.2 billion, the Grimaldi Group had the funds to expand its contract portfolio in shipyards. In the first half of this year The Grimaldi Group has expanded its order portfolio with two more car carriers – Pure Car & Truck Carrier (PCTC).
In January last year, the company signed an agreement with Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Company Limited (SWS) and China Shipbuilding Trading Company Limited (CSTC) – two companies that are part of China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited (CSSC) – to build five PCTC ships. In May this year the option to purchase two more sister ships was exercised.
The new ships, 200 meters long, 38 meters wide and with a capacity of 9,000 CEU (standard car units), have been designed to transport various types of vehicles. It is expected to be possible to transport electric vehicles and vehicles with combustion engines. It will be possible to load (and fasten) passenger cars, SUVs, vans, etc. on board. Ships will also be able to transport other types of heavy rolling loads weighing up to 250 tons.
Innovations in China’s docks
The units built in China are among the first ships equipped with a new type of engine with an electronic control system. It is forecast that the specific fuel consumption will be significantly lower than that of the drive units used so far. The shipowner announces that thanks to emission reduction systems, the new units will meet the most stringent limits established at international level in terms of CO2, NOx and SOx emissions.
Previously, Grimaldi based intercontinental ro-ro transport on tramp shipping. This year it changed its business model and “now we have 12 ships regularly employed – this is a very important change,” Grimaldi emphasizes in a statement for Lloyd’s List.
Investments in new ships of the Group last year focused on car carriers. Currently, Grimaldi operates 20 ships with a capacity of 9,000. standard cars. The new units have engines that can burn ammonia. The ships are being built at the China Merchants Jiangsu and Shanghai Waigaoqiao docks. Acceptances are planned for the years 2025 to 2028.
“The value of the contract with Chinese shipyards for the construction of seven PCTCs exceeds USD 630 million. This investment is part of the general fleet renewal plan of the Grimaldi Group, which currently includes 26 ships under construction,” says the Grimaldi Group in a press release.
The order portfolio includes 17 ammonia-capable car carriers, five G5 class multi-purpose ro-ro vessels, two GG5G class hybrid ro-ro vessels and two Superstar class ro-pax vessels (for the Finnlines subsidiary). So, innovative ships will also hit the Baltic market and perhaps we will soon see them in the heads of the Port of Gdynia.
Emanuel Grimaldi focuses on ecology
– Investing in the design and construction of such large, ecological ships as these new ammonia-ready PCTC units means making a concrete contribution both to the development of international trade and to the ecological transformation in the shipping sector – emphasized Emanuel Grimaldi, Managing Director of the Group in information about the new contract.
Grimaldi noted that “the fleet modernization project is extremely ambitious, but this is exactly the kind of initiative our sector needs to face decarbonization, which is one of the most urgent and demanding challenges of our time.”
Delivery of the two newly ordered PCTCs is scheduled for 2026. Like their five sister ships, they will be used on cruises between Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. This is a reaction to the growing demand for cars manufactured on the Asian market, mainly in China.
In 2023, the Grimaldi Group had a good base for investing in innovation. The springboard was the results in 2022. Sales of maritime transport services increased by 41%, reaching EUR 4.8 billion (EUR 3.4 billion in 2021). EBITDA last year reached EUR 1.7 billion, growing by a record 78.8%. EBIT was achieved in the amount of EUR 1.2 billion. In this case, an increase of 140.8% was recorded.
Grimaldi emphasizes that these results are the result of “a higher volume of transported passengers and new cars, as well as containers and general cargo.” It is emphasized that thanks to the diversification of transport services and bold investment decisions, the Grimaldi Group is systematically achieving better and better results. The exception was the “Covid year”.
The Grimaldi Group manages a fleet of approximately 145 vessels, of which 130 are owned by the Group. The average age of the ship is approximately 14 years.