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CEO's Column - NORDEN News Magazine Spring 2012

A Danish position of strength

NORDEN can be pleased with the results for 2011, which we recently presented to the annual general meeting. In a continuing difficult market with an oversupply of vessels and a world economy which struggles to get back into gear with low rates as a result, NORDEN generated a result for 2011 which was even slightly better than what we expected at the beginning of the year.

2012 is already well under way, and even though we anticipate great challenges again this year, I also anticipate that the year will at least become the beginning of the end of the hard times.

Consequently, NORDEN does not only focus on optimising day-to-day operations. It is equally important to ensure that NORDEN is always positioned in the best possible way to gain its share of the profit when times improve. For that reason, we also conduct thorough analyses to see when we should really start investing in both Dry Cargo and Tankers again.

In our recently published annual report, you can read about all of our on-going activities.

The annual report was published together with our CSR report. Ambition is one of NORDEN's 4 values, and this is also reflected in our targets when it comes to CSR – i.e. NORDEN's environmental activities, business ethics, employee considerations (health and safety) and social commitment.

In 2011, we thus strengthened our focus on climate with emphasis on fuel efficiency as an essential part of our long-term business. When we save fuel, it improves the bottom line, but it also means smaller impact on the environment as CO2 emissions are reduced. In other words, fuel savings and environmental considerations go hand in hand, which is also in line with our strong belief that a business driven CSR strategy is the way to go for NORDEN.

In 2011, we ordered 4 new fuel efficient MR product tankers, and at the same time, we technically optimised 2 new Handysize dry cargo vessels and chartered 4 new fuel efficient Panamax dry cargo vessels.

NORDEN is part of the Blue Denmark, which the new Danish government has just taken the initiative to strengthen with the establishment of a so-called growth team, which I have become chairman of in my capacity as CEO for NORDEN.

Even though Denmark is a small country with only 5.5 million inhabitants, Danish owned/operated vessels transport 10% of the global trade. This makes the Blue Denmark one of the country's positions of strength, and it makes Denmark one of the world's leading seafarer nations.

It is the Minister for Business and Growth Ole Sohn's ambition that we prepare a proposal for how the Danish shipping companies and all the associated maritime trades can grow even further. The growth team should also come up with ideas for how Denmark can attract foreign maritime companies – with an eye to how another small country such as Singapore succeeded in growing from a developing country into a global growth centre, not least a global shipping centre in just 50 years.

On behalf of NORDEN and the entire industry, I am pleased that the government has taken this initiative.

We have the best possible starting point. Denmark has already come a long way, we have some unique maritime competences in Denmark, and the will to strengthen the Blue Denmark is also present. Now, it is about presenting all the good ideas, unite all the good intentions and put some political drive behind them.

It may seem a bit strange to some people to talk about growth in the middle of a global financial crisis. On the other hand, it is precisely in times of crisis that you have seen the greatest ideas come into reality during the years as the will to change and renew is always greatest in times of crisis.

CARSTEN MORTENSEN

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