November 30 - Staff in HLPFI's London office awoke this morning to the first sub-temperatures of Winter and a malfunctioning office heating system. Typing in an overcoat and mittens is no fun, but the author of this week's Friday Flyer delivers a neat sna

Has the fat lady been silenced?

The saying goes that it is not over until the fat lady sings but does she know what is happening in the heavy lift shipping sector? Reports this week point to a significant merger & acquisition (M&A) move in the coming days or weeks involving a raft of Dutch shipping companies.

Just two days ago, Royal Boskalis Westminster took a 33 percent stake in Dockwise - and as a result is now the majority shareholder in the heavy lift shipping services provider.

Dockwise is reported to be pleased to be courted so soon after it acquired Fairstar in a less than easy acquisition earlier this year. However, all does not seem to be rosy in the negotiations as a quarter of Dockwise shareholders are not happy with the price offered by Boskalis, which neatly mirrors similar statements made by Fairstar,when it was subject to that hostile and ultimately successful takeover by Dockwise. Plus ça change.

Industry observers are suggesting that with the euro difficulties, global trading worries and financial pressures, the sector is likely to see high levels of M&A activity in the medium term. Just two years ago, Boskalis itself acquired heavy lift shipping, tug and salvage company SMIT International and this year has seen, among others, Scan-Trans Holding and Intermarine merging operations under the Intermarine brand.

No doubt we will hear much more from the fat lady before she stops singing.

Hong Kong Phooey

Looking to acquire business from international oil, gas, mining, and power generation companies operating in Central Asia, Russia and the CIS, A.R.T Logistics has opened its global HQ in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Agility achieved Authorised Economic Operator full (AEO-F) status in Hungary; F.S. Mackenzie - the UK member of the FPS network of independent freight forwarders - has opened its fifth office, located at East Midlands Airport; MIQ Logistics announced a multi-year service agreement with Atlas Tubular and Air Charter Service strengthened its position in the CIS by opening for business in Almaty.

Going equipped

This week brought impressive news of two new crane models from the drawing board of Terex Corporation: Superlift 3800 is a lattice boom crawler crane that can lift a maximum load of 650 tonnes; while the Terex Powerlift 1000 crawler crane has a lift capacity of 55 tonnes.

In Australia, AG&P ALE Ventures has developed Hydro Deck, an innovative transition pontoon, to enable load-in operations for loads of up to 17,000 tonnes regardless of tidal conditions.

Port to Port

The going is about to get better as the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has approved an infrastructure development project at Ocean Terminal that will aid the handling of high and heavy cargo at the gateway. In Belgium, the first concrete has been laid for the Port of Antwerp's multi-million Deurganckdocklock - the world's largest lock due to open in spring 2016 which will strengthen the port's position as Europe's second-busiest.

Spreading the net

This week, the Project Cargo Network (PCN) welcomed three companies, including SAMMA in Mauritania; Prime Cargo in Denmark, and Kimex Air & Sea in Korea bringing the PCN membership to 165 members spanning 85 countries.

Rival network, Project Partners has snapped up EES Freight Services as the group's member in Singapore, having said goodbye to Alliance 21.

Pony express

Pampas grass definitely doesn't grow under Chapman Freeborn's feet. No sooner had it opened an office in Buenos Aires, Argentina, it secured its first cargo chartering operations, including 75 tonnes of printing equipment flown from Germany to Buenos Aires on a B747 freighter.

Brought to book

The UK P&I Club wants us to 'read all about it' on the issues surrounding the operation of tug and barge fleets in its latest publication 'Tug and Barge Matters'.

Hatches, matches and dispatches

Frank Brogan is taking his seat as managing director of the Port of Corpus Christi having been promoted from deputy port director. Berndt R Olesen has been appointed as senior advisor in Perth, Australia for Hansa Heavy Lift. Discovery Air has named Jacob Shavitas president and CEO,with Brian Semkowskibe coming director and chair of the board.

All about Evie

Evie Aufheben, our sassy gossip columnist, was underwhelmed by the quirky and off-beat stories she has been sent this week. Working in the manly world of heavy lift operations, Evie is determined to hang on to her femininity at all costs and, quite naturally, facial hair has never featured in her beauty regime. However, it hasn't escaped her notice that a number of men in her life have been taking part in Mo-vember, the global charity effort to support men's health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Throughout the heavy lift industry, there will be men today charging their electric razors to remove their 'taches. Evie salutes those who put down their shavers this month to raise money for this worthy cause.

Ms Aufhebenhas been all agog at this week's news from the Netherlands, where the diner is about to become the dinner - and she's not thinking about one of those scrummy pancakes she can't resist when she visits the land of tulips, clogs and windmills. Having scoffed Fairstar, it seems like Dockwise is now on the menu itself, prompting some annoyance for Evie who failed to take heed of daddy's advice to buy some shares in Dockwise last week, when the price was almost half what it is today.

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Issue 29 of HLPFI should be hitting your desks around now. Work is progressing on the first issue of 2013, issue 30, so do consider submitting editorial contributions or booking some advertising. There are still some opportunities to join the likes of Broekman Project Services, CEE, WWPC, GPLN, DHL, and PCN, by sponsoring our Friday Flyer.

Contact Ian Matheson on +44 (0) 1689 857631 or for more information on any of the above.