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    NOL CEO joins ahead of schedule

    Singapore’s  NOL Group  has announced its new CEO Ng Yat Chung would be taking over three months ahead of schedule on Oct 1.  Mr Ng, an NOL executive director since May, was due to succeed Ron Widdows when he retired at the end of the year but the need to make upcoming "important decisions" prompted the earlier changeover, NOL said.

    “There are important decisions to be made that will affect NOL into the future, thus it is a good time to put our new management team in place,” said NOL Chairman Cheng Wai Keung. 

    Mr Ng is a former Temasek Holdings executive and one-time Chief of Defence Force in the Singapore Army and was designated CEO in April when Mr Widdows announced he would retire from NOL after 30 years with the company. Mr Widdows retains a position as senior advisor.

    “At the most senior level, we have been since mid-year, in the process of a transition of leadership which was intended to be complete at the end of this year,” Mr Ng and Mr Widdows said in a joint statement.  “It has become clear that the environment has changed, that numerous important decisions need to be taken and that most of those will have an effect on our business and our company well beyond the end of this year.  As such, we both feel strongly that it is in the best interest of the company that the new leadership begins to drive the company and shape these important decisions now, and not wait until 2012.”

    NOL last year ordered ten 8,400 TEU and two 10,700 TEU ships from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering worth some US$1.2b and due for delivery in 2013 and 2014. According to AXS-Alphaliner, NOL has the highest proportion of new orders to current fleet among the top ten lines. This is in line with its strategy of moving to more owned vessels from its current 70% or so charter ratio. However the first three quarters have seen big falls in freight rates and with a looming double dip recession, management is probably thinking ahead to the looming spectre of overcapacity once again.

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