February 12 - Safmarine MPV, the specialist project cargo and breakbulk cargo operator to West Africa, has appointed Norton Lilly International as its full liner agent in the United States.

The appointment follows the decision by the Danish AP Moller-Maersk Group to establish the Antwerp-based Safmarine MPV as an independent business unit with its own, separate agency network.

As we reported in January, Safmarine MPV is leaving the Maersk Line/Safmarine agency network, which will continue to represent the AP Moller-Maersk Group's Container Business.

The appointment of Norton Lilly follows the initial appointment of the Royal Burger Group to represent the line in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Explains Jorg Knuttel, managing director of Safmarine MPV: "The liner and sales network of Maersk Line and Safmarine Container Lines is very successfully geared towards the container business. Handling of project and breakbulk cargoes and multipurpose vessels, however, requires a different approach and it was decided that this was best delivered through an independent agency network dedicated to our business.

"We're confident that in Norton Lilly International we have found the right partner to further grow our presence and meet the growing requirements of our business in the United States."

Norton Lilly, with its headquarters in Mobile, Alabama, is one of the leading independent US shipping agents offering recognised know-how in the management of ship capacity of all types.

Deploying a dedicated fleet of multipurpose vessels, Safmarine MPV connects the US, Europe and South Africa with the main oil and gas ports along the West Africa coastline.

Its specialised multipurpose vessels are purpose-built to carry project and break bulk cargoes and are also able to load containers.

The transition of Safmarine MPV, which continues to enjoy the full support of its shareholder, the AP Moller-Maersk Group, is scheduled to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2013.