Building A Marine Propulsion Empire
Vickers Pic has made a major investment in becoming a dominating player in the marine propulsion realm. With a stable of brand names — Ulstein, Kamewa, Rauma, Aquamaster, Brown Brothers and Michell Bearings — the group is positioned to capitalize on markets around the globe. Maritime Reporter caught up with Vickers Pic CEO, Baron Paul Buysse for his take on this venture, as well as his inside strategies and goals for the future of the new company.
MR: Why the heavy investment in marine at this point in time? PB: After the divestment of Rolls Royce and Cosworth, Vickers pic was left with three strong engineering divisions: Defense, Turbine Components and Marine. In the Marine division we have very strong brand names such as Kamewa, Rauma, Aquamaster, Brown Brothers and Michell Bearings. These businesses are mainly specialists in propulsion and positioning. Propellers, thrusters and water jets are the main products, which are distributed on a global basis. When we reviewed the Vickers strategy in early 1998 we came to the conclusion that the specialist vessel sectors of the marine industry such as offshore, fast cargo and passenger vessels, and cruise will have a substantial growth pattern in the coming decade. We then scanned the leaders in these markets to identify who would make an ideal fit with Vickers Marine. It was the Ulstein Group, which came out of this survey as outperforming all the criteria we had set ourselves.
Given our combined position in, for instance, deep water offshore exploration and production, (undoubtedly one of the growth sectors of the industry), as well as in fast vessels, naval and cruise segments, (where our new Mermaid POD system is being particularly well accepted) we are convinced that longterm the marine industry will be successful for us.
MR: How are you preparing Vickers to compete in good and bad markets? PB: With the new combined Group, we are in an ideal position to offer our customers a technological partnership including the services of our unique hydro dynamic research center in Sweden. We will provide ship systems design, technological research, and a strong global service and repair network supported by a high quality manufacturing platform, which has benefited recently from important capital investments. MR: How does the Ulstein purchase strengthen Vickers? PB: Ulstein was roughly 75 percent complimentary to Kamewa and the other Vickers Marine businesses. Where the Vickers Marine companies focus more on research and advanced technological solutions for our customers, Ulstein was very active in expanding their global presence including the updating of the most modern standards in the manufacturing and development of their ship systems and design departments. Their recent acquisition of Bird-Johnson in the U.S. gives them a very strong presence there.