Höegh Autoliners will relocate its ship-owning activity to Norway. Following the move, 43 car carriers will be held by its Norwegian ship owning entity. By 2012 Höegh Autoliners plans to have at least 61 car carriers under Norwegian ownership
The new Norwegian shipping tax regime announced at the end of 2007 introduces general conditions in line with those in the EU. This will provide internationally competitive tax rules for Norwegian shipping. Höegh Autoliners has therefore decided to move its ship-owning activities from Bermuda to Norway.
“We have decided to move to Norway because the new Norwegian tax scheme is attractive and will provide an even more efficient base for our global business” says Thor Jørgen Guttormsen, CEO of Höegh Autoliners.
Key commercial and technical management activities are already located in Oslo with 268 employees. Another 320 employees operate from 30 locations world-wide.
“The Norwegian maritime cluster provides a unique base for collaboration with experienced resources in all maritime related fields,” says Guttormsen. “Maritime competency of a very high standard is available here.”
22 vessels in Höegh Autoliners’ fleet are registered in the Norwegian International Ship Registry (NIS). All newbuildings are entered into NIS when they are delivered from the yard.
While the new Norwegian shipping tax regime is attractive as outlined, the Government has proposed a scheme for terminating the existing regime which will seriously affect the industry negatively. By forcing payments of tax retroactively calculated on earnings since 1996, Norwegian shipping companies have been told to pay a huge bill in accumulated tax. The legality of this demand has been disputed by the industry.
“It is a paradox that companies established outside Norway will be better off than those who remained within the Norwegian shipping tax regime introduced in 1996,” says Guttormsen. “We will also be affected because we have maintained a presence in Norway all along. However, our evaluation of the new scheme is independent of these termination rules.”
Under the provisions for terminating the existing tax regime Höegh will be liable for around NOK 1.3 billion (about USD 240 million).
Positioned in Norway for further growth
In January Höegh Autoliners announced that it acquires a fleet of car carriers from A.P.Moller-Maersk and that the Danish company will become a shareholder in the Norway based company.
With A.P.Moller-Maersk as a partner, Höegh Autoliners has further strengthened its platform for broad based growth and enhanced customer service.
Höegh Autoliners started its Ro/Ro car carrier operation in 1969 and now deploys some 67 vessels in its global trade systems. Vessels already ordered will grow the Company’s carrying capacity by 45 per cent to 85 ships in 2012.
Main customers are major manufacturers of new cars, heavy machinery and rolling goods. In 2008 Höegh Autoliners expect to carry about 2.2 million car equivalent units (CEU) making close to 3 000 port calls. The Company estimates 2008 revenues of about USD 1.4 billion and a balance sheet of close to USD 3 billion.