National daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports that despite sluggish demand and a drastic dip in freight rates, the Danish shipping industry surpassed itself in 2008 with record foreign currency earnings of DKK 190bn (USD 33bn), a DKK 15bn (USD 2.7bn) increase on 2007. The figures are based on notifications of earnings from the shipping lines for the final quarter of 2008, together with accounts for the previous three quarters.
Jan Fritz Hansen, executive vice president of the Danish Shipowners' Association, commented: "In 10 years we have quadrupled our foreign currency earnings, and although we reckoned at the start of the year that we would reach DKK 200bn in 2008, DKK 190bn is still a new record."
Although there can be no doubt that the financial crisis will hit every type of shipping in 2009, there is optimism that the Danish merchant fleet will be able to ride out the troubled times. Managing director Mikael Skov of shipping company Torm sees a silver lining on the dark clouds of recession.
"There will be fewer ships built than planned, because many will be unable to get the financing or will go broke. That will ease the supply side, and at the same time the market could see consolidation," says Skov, who does not rule out that Torm will be involved in consolidation activity.
Share analyst Brian Børsting of LD Markets comments: "Although 2009 will be like going from heaven to hell, many Danish shipping lines have a solid balance sheet and a flexible order book. So they can use the crisis aggressively to consolidate through cheap acquisitions."