Clerici to arrange a trio… of new allies
Coeclerici’s Chairman devises fresh strategies – “We are thinking about new partnerships in three different business sectors” – while enjoying its record-breaking budgetary results, and being ready to invest profits in further initiatives
Milan – Coeclerici recently underwent a change in its business scenario and a reduction of its Milan office personnel (from 50 to 20 employees).
Established in 1895 in Genoa, Coeclerici is one of the world’s leaders in the coal sector for energy and steel companies, and it just entered also the industry sector.
“In 2018 we achieved a 943 million euro turnover, recording a significant increase (869 in 2017), a 150 million EBITDA (46 in 2017) and a 141 million EBIT (28.7 in 2017). Our net result increased over fivefold: 117 million (20 in 2017).
We are a very healthy company, as proved by our debt-to-equity ratio under 1, compared to an Italian average of 2 or 3, which was achieved also by diversifying our activity”, explained Paolo Clerici, Coeclerici Chairman and Managing Director since 1992 as well as founder and President of the Paolo Clerici Foundation, who explained to Ship2Shore the new corporate strategy.
“We set logistics aside – this explains the significant reduction in their Milan department, ed. – for several concomitant reasons.
In Indonesia we had a local partner which was our only customer – Chartswood Logistics (PTE) Ltd in Singapore, ed. – and when it asked us to acquire our stake (49% in PT Asian Bulk Logistics) we accepted, transferring to it also our specialized ships, namely: Bulk Pioneer to PT Pelayaran Logistik Konversi Indonesia; Bulk Celebes, Bulk Java, Bulk Borneo and Bulk Sumatra to PT Asian Bulk Logistics.
In Mozambique, our customer VALE changed its strategy and left the port of Beira (where our two transhippers Bulk Limpopo and Bulk Zambesi were deployed), which could host ships of any sizes, therefore we could no longer be the transhipment hub for their cargoes.
Anyway, the sale of our units resulted in significant profits”.
According to market sources, the 2 ships had been sold to the Brazilian company VALE for 198 million USD which, in turn, transferred them to Rocktree in Singapore for some 25 million each (without usage contracts).
Clerici focused on its current business without speaking about prices.
“In the past 5 years there were no contracts on the market, therefore growing was impossible. The transhipment industry recorded a significant decline, with a steady margin reduction and a low demand for new industrial projects, concentrated in high commercial and political risk Countries. Consequently, there was no point in insisting in this business”.
As concerns the most recent event, the entrepreneur denies any retreats.
“After 6 years of partnership with d’Amico, we asked to leave the joint-venture DACC, and they accepted to take the ships without hesitation. In fact, we realized that with only 2 ships there was no critical mass nor growth opportunity, therefore we decided to divest the division, although we have not left the shipping sector yet.
Former Shipping Division Chairman Andrea Clavarino resumed his office as Deputy Chairman of the Group, though remaining in Confitarma since his resignation was rejected by Confitarma President Mattioli. We will remain associated members, with Clavarino as councillor of the Association”.
Meanwhile, the company invested in other assets.
“In the past 5 years we invested 194 million euro. Our group is currently operating in 11 Countries, boasting 1,198 employees as of 31 December 2018.
Our current business focus is our mine in Siberia, and our trading activities in Singapore, besides the industrial sector.
As concerns the former, in 2018 we celebrated the tenth anniversary of our 100% acquisition of the Korchakol mine with the Italian ambassador and the Kemerovo Region governor. This mine for the extraction of low volatility coal is in Siberia, close to Novokuznetsk, where we increased production fivefold in 10 years, from 300,000 to 1.5 million tons. In 2019 we will achieve 1.7 million tons of coking coal, a commodity with a rather stable price traded from our offices in Moscow and Lugano, within the division headed by Urbano Clerici.
Usually, we always have minority partners to invest in, but in Russia, where we have been operating for 60 years, we did not need them because we did not have direct investments. However, now we are looking for a Russian partner to double production in our seam, and possibly to purchase other mines.
We plan to invest at least 100 million dollars in three years to double our current production and achieve 3 million tons per year. We might also acquire new licenses to increase reserves to over 100 million tons. This mine has a very important economic value as we invested some 10 million dollar per year in it since the beginning of this venture.
With regards to our Singapore office, dealing with commodities trading throughout Asia, we are looking for a partner; from our offices in Mumbai, Beijing, Djakarta, Sydney and Brisbane we trade all kinds of coal and coke, which we purchase especially in China, Australia and South Africa”.
Having set aside its shipping and logistics activities, besides mining and trading Coeclerici also has an industry division.
Established at the beginning of 2017 with the take-over of IMS Deltamatic (renamed IMS Technologies) – one of the main world’s operators in the production of high-technology industrial machineries and plants for the converting, packaging and automotive industries – the division embodies Coeclerici’s new challenge, allowing its group to continue its business diversification process, with an industrial approach and innovation skills.
The plant of its Calcinate (Bergamo) headquarters – the other three branches being in Mandello del Lario (Lecco), Bollate (Milan) and Detroit (Michigan, USA) – recorded a 50 million euro turnover in 2017, achieving 70 million in 2018 and with an 80 million turnover expected for 2019.
“80% of IMS Technologies’ turnover results from converting activities (being the world’s nr 1 or 2 in this segment), while 20% derives from the automotive sector”, in which Coeclerici is aiming at another leadership.
“We are looking for a partner in the automotive industry. It will probably be Chinese as China is the first cars manufacturing market worldwide. We want to speed up a project related to the construction of a plant in China since this will help us selling our machineries in Asia.
We also want to expand our Italian plant in Bergamo, and we have already purchased a 12,500 sm land in Calcinate to do so.
Meanwhile, we took a company under receivership based in Casale Monferrato on a business lease, with a view to purchasing it.
LAEM manufactures smaller converting machineries, the so called “entry level” of the sector. We also incorporated a company in Saint Petersburg as our first garrison in the Russian market”.
The international entrepreneur was also asked to express his opinion about the current world’s situation at a blocs-country level, in the macroeconomic and geopolitical scenario.
“The locomotive countries are still China and Russia, but the real question is: which country will be first worldwide in 5-10 years? I do not believe it will be India as it is a democracy, and history proves that dirigiste countries are a cut above. Since they do not accept it, the USA started an opposition that turned into a commercial war. China plans to become number 1 in 10 specific sectors of the world’s economy within 2025”, Clerici declared.
What will Italy’s role be?
“As concerns business, not politics, we must side with both of them. If only half of the provisions of the memorandum signed with China at the end of March are implemented, all Italians will benefit from it.
Italy’s problem is that the EU is divided almost about everything.
Russia must not be underestimates since, despite its problems related to sanctions, it boasts very advanced technologies. Our world is characterised by uncertainty, therefore taking entrepreneurial decisions is more difficult”.
The entrepreneur also confirmed its relations with his hometown Genoa. “Both Genoa and Trieste can play a vital role within the Silk Road, although Trieste put up less resistance to China”.
Finally, Clerici disclosed part of his projects for the Foundation, which was one of the protagonists of the permanent exhibition “Navigare nell’Arte” recently organized at the Galata Sea Museum.
“We are working on a new initiative related to the sea, but this is all that I can say for now”, revealed the entrepreneur who joined the Mu.Ma. (Museums of the Sea and Migration) Board of Directors with the support of Genoa’s Mayor Marco Bucci.
“After 10 years of appeals to have a street named after my father in Genoa, they finally resolved to dedicate the municipal garden opposite the Capuchin church in Viale Padre Santo, in front of Coeclerici’s former Genoese headquarters, to Jack Clerici ”, Clerici concluded.