Wilh. Wilhelmsen hit hard by significant drop in demand

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Severely weakened cargo volumes have resulted in a considerably reduced operating profit for the Wilh. Wilhelmsen group (WW), as the global economic crisis takes its financial toll on the company with little hope for recovery any time soon.

Ingar Skaug, Group CEO at WW, said: “The continued global economic weakness has had a significant negative impact on demand for ocean transportation of cars and ro-ro cargo, which is reflected in an abrupt decline in operating income and operating profit for our shipping segment.

“Based on an outlook of continued weak volumes and consequently a tonnage overcapacity, we will continue to adjust our fleet to available cargo volumes through redelivery, lay ups and dismantling of vessels,” he added.

With a net operating profit totalling $36.4 million for the first quarter of 2009, compared with a $59.9m for the corresponding quarter of 2008, the impact of the dramatic financial situation on the group’s operations is shedding no light on the future, with the expectation that the trend towards decreased profits will continue throughout 2009.

Mr Skaug said: “The global economic uncertainty and weakness continues, affecting our markets and the group. We implemented efficient measures to meet the challenging markets during the first quarter of 2009, and we will continue to pursue necessary actions to meet the volatile market conditions going forward.”