Taiwan’s shipping man in Italy passed away unexpectedly
Pierluigi Maneschi, partner of Evergreen and leader of the multi-task group T.O.Delta/Sisam, died in Trieste
Pierluigi Maneschi was not fond of limelight and, although he was always frank and transparent during interviews, he was definitely not pursuing fame through press articles because, being a “self-made man”, he did not need it.
Although his health problems were common knowledge, the news of his death caught us by surprise.
His press office summarized the bad news as follows:
“Pierluigi Maneschi passed away this morning in Trieste. He was one of the most important entrepreneurs in the Italian maritime transports, logistics and port activities industry. He carried out several among the most revolutionary transactions that affected the transport sector on a permanent basis, including the opening of the largest Italian container terminal in Voltri (Genoa), and the privatization of the public company Lloyd Triestino belonging to the Finmare group. Being a shipping agent who was able to tackle change focusing on containers and to become both a shipowner and a manager of large port terminals and logistic engineering centres, Maneschi created the only Italian multinational shipping company with the Sisam group”.
Maneschi was born 79 years ago in Villafranca, within the Lunigiana territory including several provinces in Tuscany (Massa), Liguria (La Spezia) and Emilia (Parma).
We interviewed him for the first time in the mid-nineties, on behalf of a foreign newspaper, at Scali Cerere in Livorno, which is still the administrative seat of the Maneschi Group known as T.O. Delta and (Green)Sisam. In the last twenty years, following the double Lloyd Triestino-Port of Taranto transaction performed in 1998 and supported by the then Italian Minister of Transports Claudio Burlando (who also created the International Register, thus preserving the Italian flag on commercial ships), Maneschi had to leave Livorno.
In fact, in the late nineties, Maneschi moved to Trieste, where he not only managed the operating companies within his group, but he also tried to help Trieste during the difficult shift towards a more organized and modern urban development with the operation related to the Old Port (where he obtained a 90 years concession to modernize 5 old warehouses), which often caused him to be at odds with the local public opinion.
A few years ago, when we met him for the last time in his company’s headquarters in Trieste, Maneschi showed his typical verve that characterized his 35-years long career side by side with his powerful Taiwanese partners, though keeping almost full autonomy with regards to his main strategic choices.
The Tuscan maritime-port entrepreneur carried out daring transactions successfully and, although he was also subject to rumours – his detractors suggested that he might be a freemason – he was definitely one of the leading figures within the Italian maritime-port sector.
Being a very strong man – he had recently recovered from cancer, although probably treatments weakened him irreparably – Maneschi was both manager (of his Taipei partners’ affairs; as well as partner of Gianluigi Aponte in TMT) and entrepreneur (of his own articulated company).
In his memorable “public disputes”, Maneschi threatened to withdraw the Italian flag from the fleet of the former Lloyd Triestino – which in 2006 became Italia Marittima; besides, many “ship lovers” will never forgive him for having removed the name and the Hapsburg logo of the 170 years old fleet to please his Chinese “bosses”… - or to leave Trieste to move to Koper.
When, at the end of 2014, Italia Marittima risked a 60 million euro penalty for tax regulations evasion, Maneschi declared to be ready to move to more welcoming countries for private enterprises, but he changed his mind as soon as he learnt that the Italian Revenue Agency would not have imposed any penalties. In this circumstance, his malicious enemies assumed that, to make sure that Maneschi did not have to pay the penalty, the Italian Parliament had approved a specific amendment of the Stability Law in order to prevent his shipping company from leaving Trieste and Italy).
Maneschi repeatedly accused the port Trieste of not being competitive, and the local Port Authority of not promoting it enough, thus of not preventing services from being more expensive than elsewhere.
In 2017, Maneschi left Confitarma because, in his opinion, the shipowners association had not been able to make the political and financial systems understand the importance of a company boasting over 32 ships and over 1 billion turnover and that, despite these figures, found it difficult to obtain loans in Italy to build ships.
In a recent interview published on the Trieste newspaper Il Piccolo (in August 2018), Maneschi exposed the Italian faults in his sector.
In order to justify the strict restructuring of the company Italia Marittima carried out during the five-year period 2014-2018 – the administrative staff was reduced from 180 to 130 employees; the fleet decreased from 40 to 27 ships (9 owned ocean units flying the Italian flag; 7 chartered ocean vessels; 11 chartered minor units flying the Maltese flag) – Maneschi explained that “these smaller sizes are essential to face the international economic crisis: commercial overcapacity, naval gigantism, ruthless competition and price dumping damage sea freights and affect corporate balance sheets, thus preventing shipping groups from earning profits. Moreover, the excessive Italian bureaucracy makes it unprofitable to keep ships under the Italian flag, since Italy does not have a Ministry of the Sea”.
In exchange for a 188 million euro investment to double areas and capacity on the quays of the Pier VII, in 2014 Maneschi obtained a 50 years extension of the concession for the container terminal, expiring in 2031.
His group, which in the past included other enterprises such as VTE in Genoa, TCT Taranto Container Terminal, RTC Roma Container Terminal Civitavecchia, Cervignano Interport (Trieste), the private airline Eva Air, recently comprised the main brands of the holding T.O. Delta, of the terminal operator TMT Trieste Marine Terminal, of the line company Italia Marittima, of the former ship agency Greensisam (established in 1985, and which subsequently became a real estate company) of the port enterprise Compagnia Portuale di Monfalcone, as well as of several branches in Asia (Bangkok, Hong Kong and Shanghai). In fact, this grouping of affiliates was regarded as one of the few shipping, logistics and port activities multinational companies being able to cover the entire supply chain.
All the above being always done in collaboration with his “friends” in Taipei: in March 2007, the four shipping companies Italia Marittima SpA, Evergreen Marine Corp (Taiwan) Ltd., Evergreen Marine (UK) Ltd and Evergreen Marine (Hong Kong) Ltd. merged into the single company Evergreen Line, though each one retained its own autonomy.