Svitzer Prepares for a New Future

People are the secret to the firm's long-term success, says veteran Svitzer exec Lise Demant

Lise Demant, Managing Director, Svitzer Europe
Lise Demant, Managing Director, Svitzer Europe

Published Mar 20, 2024 9:52 PM by The Maritime Executive


Towage industry giant Svitzer is getting ready to step out on its own as a separate, publicly-listed company, independent from longtime parent A.P. Moller-Maersk. It has been a part of Maersk for more than four decades, and its executives say that Svitzer is ready for the challenge and approaching its next stage from a position of strength. 

The numbers agree. Last year, Svitzer provided more than 150,000 harbor towage jobs, bringing in about $850 million in revenue. Its EBITDA margin came in at an enviable 29 percent. It has a track record of steady revenue growth for five years running, despite the ups and downs of the pandemic era. 

Part of the key to its success is diversification. Svitzer is exposed to all sectors of shipping in more than 140 ports around the world. That has a stabilizing effect on its business, says Svitzer Europe Managing Director Lise Demant: the company is not dependent on any one trade lane or cargo, so global events (like disruption in the Red Sea) have less impact. 

Some of the recent growth can be attributed to terminal towage contracts, which have helped Svitzer expand into new geographies. Last summer, Demant's division secured a contract to provide towage services for the Gastrade Alexandroupolis LNG terminal, its first tug operation in the Greek market. It will be locally-crewed, and Svitzer is providing advanced simulator training for its new Greek mariners. 

Capable and dedicated staff are the key to Svitzer's success, says Demant. She speaks from long experience: she began her career in maritime 25 years ago at AP Moller-Maersk and has been with the Maersk Group ever since, moving up through the ranks at Maersk Tankers before transitioning to the Svitzer division in 2013. The business of shipping has seen a lot of technological change over that period, she says, but the need for talented personnel remains the same. 

"People really make the difference in towage. Anyone can buy the equipment off-the-shelf. It's the skill, the passion and the experience of the people that make a towage company great. This is an area of focus for me: It's essential to have people who care about Svitzer's future in the organization," she says. "We have people within the company whose families have worked here for generations, and I learn from them every day." 

Svitzer has been adding to its knowledgeable team as the day of its public listing approaches. To round out its roster, it has brought in former Torm executive Christian Lintner as head of treasury and hired a new head of investor relations, Michael Nass Nielsen. "We are organizationally, financially, and operationally ready for a future as a stand-alone listed company,” said Svitzer CEO Kasper Nilaus last month.