Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Skuld scare story?

Although votes in TradeWinds readers poll on insurance club mergers are still pretty evenly divided a few readers have a rather critical view of Skuld. The Swedish Club appears to have rather more fans that Skuld as TradeWinds latest internet poll draws to a close. TradeWinds will count the votes in its club consolidation poll at noon GMT this Friday so the time to participate is running out.

Diran Majarian of Amalia Tankers writes from Greece to say he would rather see the Swedish Club linking up with Gard than Skuld.
“The Swedish Club has an upper market reputation with good owners, safety consciousness and quality service. The Club has a tightly knit base of owners and functions as a 'club' in a very traditional sense. Skuld has a mixed reputation in Piraeus through its Danish office, taking on smaller owners and assisting them, but being very tough on the terms and not always offering the best service to its members,” writes Majarian.
“The Swedish Club has always enjoyed a good economic situation with their finances and back calls, whilst the Skuld has had its ups and downs,” he adds “The Skuld mission statement some years ago was to be the most desirable P&I Club, but the club has never managed to gain the stature of their other Norwegian counterpart: Gard. In many ways, the Swedish Club would be a lot more compatible with Gard rather Skuld on these above matters. In essence the Swedish Club has been a sort of cameo Gard,” says Majarian.

“Regardless of improved economics of scale, the merger opens these serious service and relationship issues for owners in the Swedish Club, who have had traditionally a much better deal that those in the Skuld. They would lose control and be overwhelmed in a much larger and very different kind of a P&I Club. Whether the new club that arises from merger would retain the positive elements that existed in the Swedish Club is a question of concern. There will be serious rebranding problems in Piraeus,” Majarian predicts.
Carl Gill of British Marine’s claims team also appears to be not a big fan of Skuld.
“I have dealt with both whilst employed by a ship management firm. The Swedish Club have a good reputation on service to assureds and for being reasonable when dealing with third parties - which is the complete opposite of Skuld,” he adds. “Skuld being larger will undoubtedly drag the Swedish Club down to their level,” Gill adds.

Mogens Jensen writes from Denmark supporting the idea of a merger in principle but says implementation will be the real test. If Skuld and the Swedish Club can make a merger work Jensen says others will follow.

Australian reader, Patrick Bradley, says the clubs have to get bigger to gain the resources to serve markets like his own. “We have got correspondents here but if we want to talk to club managers the nearest are in Hong Kong,” he adds. Bradley also thinks all the clubs are far too focussed on Europe.

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