December 21 - Well, the Mayan day of apocalypse has arrived and so far, it appears to be passing over peacefully, meaning HLPFI staff will waste no time in getting out the tea and cake (nothing stronger) to mark the fact that the world is still here.

We also enjoyed one of our many mince pies of the festive season as we wrote this week's issue, which doesn't have a sponsor - come along all you marketeers out there, don't be shy in getting a chance to promote your brand in our weekly digest.

A prophecy more likely to come true than millennia-old Mayan projections, was the report this week that, as the BRIC nations plateau, other countries, from Bangladesh to Mexico, are coming up fast - and could overtake the west within four decades. This shift away from the quartet of developing economies would have considerable implications for the project forwarding and heavy lift sectors in the coming decades and will be one to watch.

Of more immediate concern than the end of the planet, is the end of talks this week between the US Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) union that is going to focus the industry's thoughts as the year finishes. Ocean freight to US east and gulf coast ports could be severely delayed from December 29 as longshoremen prepare to down tools and strike. The row is about container royalties - payments made to longshoremen based on the weight of containerised cargo - and, unless peace breaks out in the argument, shippers and forwarders can expect major problems.

In Europe, the working week ends with the news that Royal Boskalis Westminster is looking to hoover up the remaining shares in Dutch shipping company Dockwise - upping its bid to EUR18.5 per share. Last month Boskalis acquired 33 percent of Dockwise shares at EUR17.20. At the same time, Dockwise shareholder HAL Investments BV (32 percent) agreed to irrevocably support and accept the EUR17.20 offer. Shareholder Project Holland BV (7.4 percent) has now pledged to support and accept the latest valuation - more than 83 percent of Dockwise shares have now been acquired or committed to by Boskalis.

On the business pages

It's official: COSCO Shipping Co Ltd (COSCOL) has confirmed that it has officially established joint ventures with NMA Maritime & Offshore Contractors of the Netherlands.

Nine out of ten Shaw Group shareholders have given the OK to approaches by CB&I to purchase the company. A majority of the acquisition's closing conditions have been met and CB&I expects the transaction to close in Q1 2013, subject to the satisfaction of remaining conditions. Shaw cannot complete the merger and shareholders will not receive payment unless the merger is approved by holders of at least 75 percent of Shaw's common shares.

Cry freedom

Clipper Steel Services - sister company of specialist heavy lift line Clipper Projects - has transported a number of steel beams vital for the New York Freedom Tower, the centrepiece of the new World Trade Centre in Lower Manhattan. A large amount of the steel used in the tower, also known as the One World Trade Centre, has been manufactured in Luxembourg by steel and mining concern ArcelorMittal.

Two become one

Two of the industry's leading ship classification societies and risk experts, DNV and GL, are to merge, creating the DNV GL Group. DNV's Group ceo, Henrik Madsen, will head up the new company which aims to have aturnover of some EUR 2.5 billion and will be headquartered and registered in Norway. Increased globalisation, rapid technological change and the need for sustainable development are credited with creating the merger.

Well done, that man

The Seahorse Club has named HLPFI editor Ian Martin Jones as the recipient of its John Richman Lifetime Achievement Award. Jones, who recently replaced Emma Murray in HLPFI's editorial hotseat, collected his award at this year's Seahorse Club Journalism Awards event in London which attracted 130 entries from more than 50 journalists in 12 countries around the world.

Forwarder news

The Melbourne, Australia branch of Famous Pacific Shipping (FPS), tucked into a Chinese take-away after being awarded a contract to handle the import, unpacking and delivery of 52 containers loaded with 1,138 tonnes ofsteel coil after the cargo arrived in Melbourne from China. Meanwhile, fellow network member, Famous Pacific Forwarding Philippines launched two-way domestic ocean services linking the island nation's two main international ports of Manila and Cebu to other key ports throughout the Philippines. At the same time, Luxembourg-headquartered Logwin has opened a new office in southern Chinese city, Shantou, its fourth in China this year.

Swiss-headquartered InterRail Holding is on track for a significant involvement in Euro-Asian rail-based freight services after acquisition of 50 percent of Azerbaijan-based railway services provider AzerRail Baku. The deal will allow InterRail to take advantage of the new standard gauge railway from Europe via Turkey to Georgia and Baku that is in the latter stages of its construction.

Two members of the WCA Family of Logistic Networks Ltd have shipped heavy and oversized cargos recently: South Korean-based Kimex Air & Sea moved eight chiller machines weighing 49.5 tonnes each for client LG Electronics, between Masan Port in South Korea to Abu Dhabi, UAE, while Sarjak Container Lines, India, recently shipped over dimensional machinery for a new sugar factory being built in Maharashtra, India.

Port news

And the winner is: HAROPA - a French grouping of ports from Le Havre, Rouen and Paris - has been named 'Port of the Year' by association BP2S - the French Bureau for Promotion of Short Sea Shipping and Intermodality.

In the USA, the Port of Milwaukee, part of Foreign Trade Zone-41 in the USA, has been approved to serve a wider area of Southeast Wisconsin.

For four decades, Mina Zayed has been Abu Dhabi's primary container gateway but that is now history. Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT) has completed the redirection of container traffic from Mina Zayed in downtown Abu Dhabi to the brand new Khalifa Port, 60 km east of the city centre. The last container vessel to call at Mina Zayed was Messina Line's Jolly Arancione.

Hatches, matches and despatches

After being at the helm as Zeeland Seaports developed into the third-largest sea port in the Netherlands and recorded its highest-everthroughput figures, ceo Hans van der Hart is throwing in the towel - but not yet. He'll be sitting behind his desk until October 2013.

Patrick Verhoeven is to jump ship from his role as secretary-general at the European Sea Port Organisation (ESPO) to join the European Community Shipowners' Association (ECSA) where he will replace current ECSA secretary-general Alfons Guinier in the middle of next year.

Tony Otero is to take over as vice president of Caribbean Services for Crowley Maritime Corporation's liner services division, replacing Matt Jackson who is moving to a new position in Crowley's petroleum services team.

Living his dreams means that Belgian forwarder H.Essers' ceo Ivo Marechal has resigned and will leave the Belgian transport and logistics group in Q1 2013. H.Essers, which is active in exceptional transport through its subsidiary, Geertrans Hellings, said that the basis of the decision is Marechal's desire, "after 12 years at the company, to fulfil his personal ambitions for the future, differently."

All about Evie

Evie Aufheben, our sassy gossip columnist, continues to watch the heavy lift world go by for those quirky and off-beat stories she so loves.

We all have our guilty secrets and Evie's is her love of football. It's hard, sometimes, for this 24-hour party person to slip away for 90 minutes of round-ball action, but when she does it's straight on the Virgin train to Coventry to follow the Sky Blues at the Ricoh arena. She is too young (honest) to remember the club's only major trophy: the 1987 3 - 2 FA Cup Final win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Ms Aufheben is also one for heavy lift operations, including the heaviest lift of all: getting the Sky Blues back where she thinks they belong - in the top flight in the English Premier League!

Many Friday Flyer readers are looking forward to Christmas and some time off to enjoy with friends and family wherever they are. Ms Aufheben wishes a cool Yule and successful 2013 to all Friday Flyer readers!

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