Norden to Lay Off 15% of Office Staff

Chief executive, Carsten Mortensen, said that the decision to lay off 37 employees, some 15% of its shore-based workforce, comes after Norden had exhausted all other opportunities following the drastic drop in freight rates.
“If you look at the last five months, Norden has acted very resolutely, in as much as we scaled down, we started taking short-term chartered vessels in, even stopped hiring vessels as we reduced our exposure to the market,” he said.
“But with the bleak outlook on the economy, and reducing our active fleet from 200 ships to 100, it was time to, unfortunately, downsize the shore organizations. It is a sad day, but it is necessary.”
The redundancy plan involves 19 employees in its headquarters in Denmark and 18 employees in Singapore, Shanghai and Annapolis. None of the company’s sea-going personnel are affected.
The company has not released its expectations for 2009, and will not do so until early March, but Mr Mortensen said the dry bulk market is going to see further challenges in the coming months, especially in getting charterers to honour contracts of affreightment.
“This is our daily work right now, trying to keep the wheel turning. We have to be empathetic towards our business partners, but on the other hand Norden performed spotless in the good times when we had $20,00 contacts in $80,000 markets. We nominated ships every time,” he said.
Mr Mortensen said that the company is still an active player in the dry bulk market, and he still sees long-term opportunities. “We are a firm believer in India and China in dry cargo demand. There is a banking crisis, and a recession, but we are one of the companies that can sweat this out. We have had to reduce slightly, but we are a long-term player in what we do.”

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