Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM) has forged another partnership to build its business in Asia.

The German-controlled, Cyprus-based group has signed an agreement with Aurus Ship Management in India to form a venture called Columbia Aurus Ship Management (CASM) to explore opportunities in the Indian market.

The two sides will also tap into the Indian crewing sector to consolidate Columbia’s march eastwards.

CASM will continue to provide core services such as crew recruitment, purchasing, payroll management and technical operations.

“With a particular focus on attracting, training and retaining experienced and qualified crew, it is the aim of the rebranded set-up to become synonymous with maritime excellence throughout India,” the companies said.

The move, they said, will ensure the supply of highly qualified and dedicated crew members from India for CSM’s managed vessels.

CSM sees the deal as a way to increase its footprint in what it calls “a very important market”.

A CSM cadet programme will be run with Aurus and Indian academies to attract young talent.

Aurus chief executive Prakash Agarwal said: “It is our immense pleasure to be chosen as the Indian partner of CSM ... and we very much look forward to working with them in partnership.”

Aurus began only six years ago and Agarwal said the partnership recognises the professionalism of its team of shore-based employees.

CSM chief executive Mark O’Neil said: “When forming a partnership with another company, it is vital that the two cultures of their businesses are aligned. In Aurus we have found this partner.”

He described Aurus as a leader in the Indian crew recruitment market.

“Crucially, both companies believe in operating in the most environmentally and socially conscious way whilst making informed and ambitious commercial decisions. We look forward to making CASM a success based on this shared vision and are very excited about what the future holds.”

In May, the Columbia group boosted financing options for clients through an investment in Germany’s Ahorn Capital.

Group subsidiary Columbia Finance Solutions bought an unspecified stake in the Hamburg-based platform for institutional and professional investors.

And CSM said it is ready to pour millions of dollars into the establishment of a tanker-focused management unit in Greece.

Outsiders have been invited to take a stake in the new venture, to be called the CSM Hellas Tanker Management Centre of Excellence.

In March, CSM expanded operations in France and Italy by sealing a joint venture with Sea World Management.

And it has signed a memorandum of understanding with International Maritime Industries, a shipbuilding joint venture between oil giant Saudi Aramco, Lamprell, VLCC owner Bahri and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

All this followed deals to add more than 100 offshore vessels to its joint venture CSM Saudi Arabia since its August 2021 launch.