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24 February 2019
BRS’ global expansion continues with plans for Hong Kong office

BRS plans to increase its scope in China by recruiting brokers for a new office in Hong Kong as part of its continuing global expansion.
The Paris-headquartered group told TradeWinds it is also close to finalising a deal to take on the broking team of Colombia’s Amazonas Shipping and will open an office in Vietnam within a month.
BRS’ existing 19-office network already includes Beijing and Shanghai but chief executive Francois Cadiou said Hong Kong offers various other shipowning companies and traders and remains a gateway to China.

Dry cargo launch
Indications are that BRS will kick off with a dry cargo chartering operation but later exploit asset opportunities in sale and purchase and newbuildings.
Chairman Tim Jones said one option is to find a team of about three brokers who want to take their business to BRS and be part of a large group.
Many of the brokerage’s clients in China already have offices in Hong Kong and it is familiar with the dry cargo business there.
Hong Kong is likely to follow the pattern of other BRS network ventures by starting small, monitoring what the local market needs and expanding activities over time, said Cadiou.

In 2015, for example, BRS opened in Greece after hiring four chartering brokers previously with Platou’s local operation. It began with dry bulk, but has since grown in a similar way to BRS’ Geneva office.
BRS also entered the US market in 2015 by taking on the team of Connecticut brokerage Bulk Ocean Chartering. And in 2017, it launched a tanker desk in Houston headed by former Koch Industries chartering manager Currie Evans.

Complete control
Jones said the Hong Kong venture has to be 100% BRS, after experiences with too many joint ventures that failed. It is not looking to take over companies.
It has adopted the same approach in Colombia, where Cadiou said an agreement is in place to take on Amazonas Shipping's team of five, which he described as a “small but dynamic dry bulk chartering company”.
Amazonas Shipping is based in Bogota and is owned by Eduardo Silva, who will retire following a period of transition. The outfit, with whom BRS has worked for many years, includes three chartering brokers.
It is understood that one of the Amazonas Shipping's brokers has already spent three months in BRS’ Stamford office undergoing further training and meeting with brokers there.
Asked about the office network expansion, Jones said: “Hong Kong, Vietnam and Colombia are all areas that are growing and developing. So, we are looking at ways to provide our clients with more information about what is going on.”
Globally, BRS has about 500 employees including more than 200 brokers.

Source: Tradewinds

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