March 1 - Rickmers-Linie is expanding its market coverage in China and is enhancing sales and marketing activities into central and southern China.

Rickmers-Linie is targeting China and Indonesia for expansion, including a possible investment in terminal operations in China. Director marketing and sales Gerhard Janssen predicted that, within the next five to 10 years, China would emerge as a key exporter of high-tech, sophisticated equipment such as wind turbines, as well as construction materials for power plants and cement plants built in China for export.

"Japan and South Korea have some very famous engineering, procurement and construction companies that have good reputations. China is doing a lot to catch up," he said. "As a carrier we have to make sure that, in the medium term, we have our feet on the ground and have a presence in the areas where we believe the action is going to happen in the next couple of years" he said. 

In addition to offices in Beijing and Shanghai, the Hamburg-based recently added liaison offices in Changsha, Chongqing and Chengdu and announced plans for another in Shenzhen. It also has representation in Urumqi, in the western province of Xinjiang. The company has around 30 employees in mainland China. 

Janssen said the company was open to growth through acquisition or investment, particularly terminal operations. "We are currently active in Hamburg and Antwerp through co-owing terminals and if there were similar opportunities in China, we would certainly look at that," he said. Janssen said he would also consider inland or barge operations, but that it was unclear whether such opportunities would be open to 
foreign participation. 

The company is looking closely at Indonesia, where the economy is growing rapidly. "There is a lot going on in mining, infrastructure and power there," he said. "One option would be to build up our Singapore organization to tap opportunities in Southeast Asia." 

Intra-Asia trade also offered growth opportunities, including the Far East to Southeast Asia and beyond to India. "There is a lot of competition [on intra-Asia]," he said. "But if we can add an element of quality then for sure we could carve out a niche." Janssen noted the addition of two newbuilding vessels to the company's Europe-India service at the end of last year and had chartered three former Belluga ships, also for the Europe-India service, he added. 

Further fleet expansion could be on the cards. "There are still a lot of ships around and there are still ships being built. Owners interested in talking to reliable, solid companies and have a home for these ships," Janssen said. "I am quite confident that in the next couple of months there will be some opportunities. If they present themselves, we will certainly seize them," he added. 

The company was on the lookout for small to medium sized ships with solid lifting capacity. "In Middle East and India there are many ports with some kind of restriction, such as draft and berthing limitations," Janssen explained. "We like the flexibility of smaller units."

*According to Wolfgang Harms, Rickmers-Linie's chief representative Greater China, moving closer to the major industrial production facilities and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies will enhance the company's ability to offer its clients tailor made, innovative and efficient transportation solutions from the factory up to the construction site.

"We have appointed additional liaison offices in Changsha, Chongqing and Chengdu. These three inland liaison offices will be managed and coordinated for the time being out of our Shanghai office under the 
control of our general manager Zhao Jin Hai. Furthermore we are also strengthening our presence in the south of Guangdong Province with a liaison office in Shenzhen, which will be managed through our office 
manager Sylvia Mak at Rickmers-Linie Hong Kong." 

Rickmers-Linie has already had for some years an inland representation in Urumqi, the capital city of the province of Xinjiang, neighbouring with central Asian countries like Kazakhstan. This liaison office is managed through the shipping line's Beijing office by Julie Zhu