Outgoing Clipper Group chief executive Peter Norborg will join Singapore-based Swire Bulk as its chief executive when the company demerges from parent China Navigation Co (CNCo) in January.

CNCo announced Norborg’s appointment on Thursday, one day after Clipper said he was leaving "by mutual agreement" to take up new challenges.

Rob Aarvold, who currently heads Swire Bulk as general manager, will continue in his role.

“Peter will work closely with Rob Aarvold as general manager of the operating business to help oversee Swire Bulk’s continued development as a high-quality global dry bulk business,” CNCo chairman Sam Swire said.

CNCo’s announcement highlighted Norborg’s impressive resume that includes top-level management positions in shipping companies such as Gearbulk, Norden and J Lauritzen.

The Danish national joined Clipper in 2016 and played an instrumental role in its strategic reorganisation and the refocus on it dry bulk business. He was key in reducing the company's fleet as it pursued an asset-light chartering model in recent years.

“We are delighted that Peter will be joining Swire Bulk as CEO. He brings a wealth of shipping experience and strategic leadership to the role,” Swire said.

Clipper has promoted current group chief operating officer Amrit Peter Kalsi to replace Norborg.

Stand-alone company

Swire Bulk boasts a modern fleet that includes the 33,963-dwt Singan (built 2020). Photo: CNCo

CNCo will split its dry bulk shipping activities from its liner shipping and fleet management business on 1 January in a move that will establish Swire Bulk as a stand-alone, privately held company.

It will continue to be headquartered in Singapore and John Swire & Sons will remain as its ultimate parent company.

The move, first announced in July, was described as being a way to “provide the business with the optimal platform to support its growth ambitions and cement its position as a provider of market-leading freight solutions”.

Swire Bulk was established in 2012, and has grown rapidly to become the largest part of CNCo’s business.

The acquisition of Hamburg Sud Tramp from Maersk Line last year boosted its fleet up to about 150 vessels, predominantly in the handysize and supramax/ultramax sectors.

VesselsValue indicates that 29 of these bulkers, which have an average age of four years, are directly owned by the company.

Its fleet will grow in the coming years with the addition of eight 37,000-dwt bulkers that Japan’s Oshima Shipbuilding will begin delivering in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Swire Bulk has grown rapidly over the last eight years and has built an experienced and high-performing team with over 100 employees across nine offices around the world. It has a strong customer-centric culture and an ability to build high-valued partnerships with tonnage providers, trading houses and our core industrial client base. I look forward to working with Peter as we continue to grow the business,” Aarvold said.

Swire Bulk stressed that it would be business as usual for its customers, tonnage partners and all related stakeholders before and after it is established as an independent entity.