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ZIM INTEGRATED SHIPPING SERVICES LTD.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION AND USE OF CERTAIN TERMS
We have prepared this Annual Report using a number of conventions, which you should consider when reading the information contained herein. In this Annual Report, the “Company,” “we,” “us” and “our” shall refer to ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd., or ZIM.
The following are definitions of certain terms that are commonly used in the shipping industry and in this Annual Report.
A type of a vessel sharing agreement that involves joint operations of fleets of vessels and sharing of vessel space in multiple trades
A form of charter where the vessel owner supplies only the vessel, while the charterer is responsible for crewing the vessel, obtaining insurance on the vessel, the auxiliary vessel equipment, supplies, maintenance and the operation and management of the vessel, including all costs of operation. The charterer has possession and control of the vessel during a predetermined period and pays the vessel owner charter hire during that time.
“bill of lading”
A document issued by or on behalf of a carrier as evidence of a contract carriage and is usually considered as a document of title (transferable by endorsement) and as receipt by the carrier for the goods shipped and carried. The document contains information relating to the nature and quantity of goods, their apparent condition, the shipper, the consignee, the ports of loading and discharge, the name of the carrying vessel and terms and conditions of carriage. A house bill of lading is a document issued by a freight forwarder or non-vessel operating common carrier that acknowledges receipt of goods that are to be shipped and is issued once the goods have been received.
A scheduled sailing that has been cancelled by a carrier or shipping line resulting in a vessel skipping certain ports or the entire route.
Prior written request of a shipper (in a specific designated form) from the carrier setting forth the requested details of the shipment of designated goods (i.e., a space reservation).
Cargo that is transported unpackaged in large quantities, such as ores, coal, grain and liquids.
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments.
The maximum number of containers, as measured in TEUs, that could theoretically be loaded onto a container ship, without taking into account operational constraints. With reference to a fleet, a carrier or the container shipping industry, capacity is the total TEUs of all vessels in the fleet, the carrier or the industry, as applicable.
A shipping document listing the contents of shipments per bills of lading including their main particulars, usually used for customs, security, port and terminal purposes.
The legal entity engaged directly or through subcontractors in the carriage of goods for a profit.
The U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, and Liability Act.
Cash generating unit.
The leasing of a vessel for a certain purpose at a pre-determined rate for a pre-determined period of time (where the hire is an agreed daily rate) or for a designated voyage (where the hire is agreed and based on volume/ quantity of goods).
Organizations that establish and administer standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of vessels. As a practical matter, vessels cannot operate unless they meet these standards.
A grouping of container shipping companies which come together to set a common structure of rates and surcharges for a specific trade route.
The entity or person named in the bill of lading as the entity or person to whom the carrier should deliver the goods upon surrendering of the original bill of lading when duly endorsed.
A steel box of various size and particulars designed for shipment of goods.
Cargo that is transported using standard intermodal containers as prescribed by the International Organization for Standardization. Containerized cargo excludes cargo that is not transported in such containers, such as automobiles or bulk cargo.
The process of clearing import goods and export goods through customs.
The fee we charge an importer for each day the importer maintains possession of a container that is beyond the scheduled or agreed date of return.
Container yards located outside terminals for stacking of containers.
A penalty charge which may be imposed by the carrier, the terminal or the warehouse to customers for exceeding agreed times for returning (merchant’s haulage) or stuffing/stripping (carrier’s haulage) container(s).
The direction of shipping on a particular trade with the higher transport volumes. The opposite direction of shipping is called the “counter-dominant” leg.
An out-of-service period during which planned repairs and maintenance are carried out, including all underwater maintenance such as external hull painting. During the drydocking, mandatory classification society inspections are carried out and relevant certifications issued.
Emission Control Areas as defined by Annex VI to the MARPOL Convention.
A customer who is a producer of the goods to be shipped or an exporter or importer of such goods, in each case, with whom we have a direct contractual relationship. In contrast, with respect to an indirect customer, we only have a contractual relationship with a freight forwarder who acts as agent for the producer of the goods to be shipped.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an agency of the U.S. federal government responsible for protecting human health and the environment.
Full Container Load, which refers to cargo shipped in a complete container.
A small tonnage vessel that provides a linkage between ports and long hull vessels or main hub ports and smaller facility ports, which may be inaccessible to larger vessels.
A line of service that transfers cargo between a central hub port and regional ports for a transcontinental ocean voyage.
Non-vessel operating common carriers that assemble cargo from customers for forwarding through a shipping company.
Gross domestic product.
The list of newbuilding orders published by Danish Ship Finance A/S
A form of charter where the charterer’s responsibility and involvement is more in line with that of a “bareboat” charter, but the vessel owner retains possession of the vessels and other rights as defined in the charter party agreement.
The International Maritime Organization, the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
“IMO 2020 Regulations”
Global regulations imposed by the IMO, effective January 1, 2020, requiring all ships to burn fuel with a maximum sulfur content of 0.5%, among other requirements.
International Safety Management Code, an international code for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention issued by the IMO applicable to international route vessels and shipping companies (ship management companies, bareboat charters and shipowners).
International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, an international code for vessel and port facility security issued by the IMO applicable to international route vessels.
The Joint War Committee.
The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Less than a Container Load, which refers to shipments that fill less than a full shipping container and are grouped with other cargo.
A vessel sailing between specified ports on a regular basis.
A line refers to a route for shipping cargo between sea ports.
A comprehensive, system-wide view of the entire supply chain as a single process, from raw materials supply through finished goods distribution. All functions that make up the supply chain are managed as a single entity, rather than managing individual functions separately.
In relation to container leasing, a lease typically for a term of five to ten years, during which an agreed leasing rate is payable.
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee of the IMO.
The US Maritime Transport Security Act of 2002.
A vessel under construction or on order.
“non-dominant leg”, or “counter- dominant leg”
The direction of shipping on a particular trade with the lower transport volumes. The opposite direction of shipping is called the “dominant” leg.
“non-vessel operating common carrier”
A carrier, usually a freight forwarder, which does not own or operate vessels and is engaged in the provision of shipping services, normally issuing a house bill of lading.
A period within a chartering term during which no charter hire is being paid, in accordance with the charter arrangement, due to the partial or full inability of vessels, owners or crew to comply with charterer instructions resulting in the limited availability or unavailability of the vessel for the use of the charterer.
With respect to our vessels or containers, vessels or containers to which we have title (whether or not subject to a mortgage or other lien).
Protection and indemnity.
“port state controls”
The inspection of foreign ships in national ports to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment comply with the requirements of international regulations and that the ship is manned and operated in compliance with these rules.
A temperature-controlled shipping container.
A carrier who generally focuses on a number of smaller routes within a geographical region or within a major market, and usually offers direct services to a wider range of ports within a particular market.
The process by which, at the end of its life, a vessel is sold to a shipbreaker who strips the ship and sells the steel as “scrap.”
A type of exhaust gas cleaning equipment utilized by ships to control emissions.
A string of vessels which makes a fixed voyage and serves a particular market.
“Shanghai (Export) Containerized Freight Index”
Composite index published by the Shanghai Shipping Exchange that reflects the fluctuation of spot freight rates in the export container transport market in Shanghai. The basis period of the composite index is October 16, 2009 and the basis index is 1,000 points.
The entity or person named in the bill of lading to whom the carrier issues the bill of lading.
The space required for one TEU on board a vessel.
The amount of container space on a vessel.
“slot charter/hire agreement”
An arrangement under which one container shipping company will charter container space on the vessel of another container shipping company.
The practice of operating vessels at significantly less than their maximum speed.
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974.
Ship Security Alert Systems.
The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended.
A terminal operator or a stevedoring company who is responsible for the loading and discharging containers on or from vessels and various other container related operating activities.
An exchange of slots between two carriers, with each carrier operating its own line, while also having access to capacity on the other shipper’s line.
An assigned area in which containers are stored pending loading into a vessel or are stacked immediately after discharge from the vessel pending delivery.
Twenty-foot equivalent unit, a standard unit of measurement of the volume of a container with a length of 20 feet, height of 8 feet and 6 inches and width of 8 feet.
A form of charter where the vessel owner charters a vessel’s carry capacity to the charterer for a particular period of time for a daily hire. During such period, the charterer has the use of vessel’s carrying capacity and may direct her sailings. The charterer is responsible for fuel costs, port dues and towage costs. The vessel owner is only responsible for manning the vessel and paying crew salaries and other fixed costs, such as maintenance, repairs, oils, insurance and depreciation.
Trade between an origin group of countries and a destination group of countries.
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.
“U.S. Shipping Act”
The U.S. Shipping Act of 1984, as amended by the US Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998.
“vessel sharing agreement” (VSA)
An operational agreement between two or more carriers to operate their vessels on a service by swapping slots on such service and whereby at least two carriers contribute vessels to the service.
A container shipping alliance comprised of Copenhagen based Maersk Lines Ltd. (Maersk) and Geneva based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
PRESENTATION OF FINANCIAL AND OTHER INFORMATION
We report under International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, or the IASB. None of the financial statements were prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States. We present our financial statements in U.S. dollars. We have made rounding adjustments to some of the figures included in this Annual Report. Accordingly, numerical figures shown as totals in some tables may not be an arithmetic aggregation of the figures that precede them.
Items included in our financial statements are measured using the currency of the primary economic environment in which we operate, the U.S. dollar, or the Functional Currency. Our financial statements and other financial information included in this Annual Report are presented in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted. See Note 2(d) of our audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2021, included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
We make forward-looking statements in this Annual Report that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements include information about possible or assumed future results of our business, financial condition, results of operations, liquidity, plans and objectives. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “believe,” “may,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “should,” “plan,” “expect,” “predict,” “potential,” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, such matters as:
|●||our expectations regarding general market conditions, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and other global economic trends;|
|●||our expectations regarding trends related to the global container shipping industry, including with respect to fluctuations in container supply, industry consolidation, demand, bunker prices, charter/ freights rates, container values and other factors affecting supply and demand;|
|●||our plans regarding our business strategy, areas of possible expansion and expected capital spending or operating expenses;|
|●||our anticipated ability to obtain additional financing in the future to fund expenditures.|
|●||our expectation of modifications with respect to our and other shipping companies’ operating fleet and lines, including the utilization of larger vessels within certain trade zones and modifications made in light of environmental regulations;|
|●||the expected benefits of our cooperation agreements and strategic alliances;|
|●||our anticipated insurance costs;|
|●||our beliefs regarding the availability of crew;|
|●||our expectations regarding our environmental and regulatory conditions, including changes in laws and regulations or actions taken by regulatory authorities, and the expected effect of such regulations;|
|●||our beliefs regarding potential liability from current or future litigation;|
|●||our plans regarding hedging activities;|
|●||our ability to pay dividends in accordance with our dividend policy;|
|●||our expectations regarding our competition and ability to compete effectively; and|
|●||our ability to effectively handle cyber-security threats and recover from cyber-security incidents.|
The preceding list is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all of our forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are based on our beliefs, assumptions and expectations of future performance, taking into account the information currently available to us. These statements are only estimates based upon our current expectations and projections about future events. There are important factors that could cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from the results, levels of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. In particular, you should consider the risks provided under Item 3.D “Risk factors” in this Annual Report.
You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee that future results, levels of activity, performance and events and circumstances reflected in the forward- looking statements will be achieved or will occur. Each forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date of the particular statement. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements for any reason after the date of this Annual Report, to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations.
ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
A. Directors and senior management
ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
A. Offer statistics
B. Method and expected timetable
ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION
A. Selected financial data
B.Capitalization and indebtedness
C.Reasons for the offer and use of proceeds
You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below and the other information in this annual report before making an investment in our ordinary shares. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected if any of these risks occurs, and as a result, the market price of our ordinary shares could decline and you could lose all or part of your investment. This annual report also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. See “Forward-Looking Statements.” Our actual results could differ materially and adversely from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors.
Summary of Risk Factors
The following is a summary of some of the principal risks we face. The list below is not exhaustive, and investors should read this “Risk factors” section in full.
|●||The container shipping industry is dynamic and volatile and has been marked in recent years by instability and uncertainties as a result of global economic conditions and the many factors that affect supply and demand in the shipping industry, including geopolitical trends, US-China related trade restrictions, regulatory developments, relocation of manufacturing, logistical bottlenecks in certain location along the cargo carriage chain, and, recently, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.|
|●||The recent military conflict between Russia and the Ukraine or other geopolitical instabilities may cause financial markets to plummet, reduce global trade, increase bunker prices and may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.|
|●||We charter-in most of our fleet, which makes us more sensitive to fluctuations in the charter market, and as a result of our dependency on the vessel charter market, our costs associated with chartering vessels are unpredictable and could be, in certain circumstances, high even when the freight market is in a downward trend.|
|●||Future imbalance between supply of global container ship capacity and demand may limit our ability to operate our vessels profitably.|
|●||Limited or unavailable access to ports and means of land transportation, including due to congestion.|
|●||Changing trading patterns, trade flows and sharpening trade imbalances, regulatory measures, and terminal actions to relieve congestion in ports, including due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, may increase our container repositioning costs. If our efforts to minimize our repositioning costs are unsuccessful, it could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.|
|●||Our ability to participate in operational partnerships in the shipping industry remains limited, which may adversely affect our business, and we face risks related to our strategic cooperation agreement with the 2M Alliance, that following the amendment of this agreement which will come to effect in April 2022, can be unilaterally terminated by any party to the agreement after an initial period of 18 months (subject to provision of notice).|
|●||The container shipping industry is highly competitive, and competition may intensify even further. Certain of our large competitors may be better positioned and have greater financial resources than us and may therefore be able to offer more attractive schedules, services and rates, which could negatively affect our market position and financial performance.|
|●||We may be unable to retain existing customers or may be unable to attract new customers.|
|●||We are incorporated and based in Israel and, therefore, our results may be adversely affected by political, economic and military instability in Israel.|
|●||We face cyber-security risks.|
|●||Volatile bunker prices, including as a result of the mandatory transfer to low sulfur oil bunker by the IMO 2020 Regulations or other geopolitical and economic events, may have an adverse effect on our results of operations.|
|●||We are subject to environmental regulations, and in addition, ESG regulation and reporting requirements have intensified and are expected to continue to intensify in the future, including without limitation, with respect to the use of cleaner fuel and/or imposition of vessel speed limits, which could increase our operational costs.|
|●||The recent spike in freight rates and related charges has resulted in increased scrutiny by regulators around the world. In particular, the ministry of transportation in China approached several carriers, including the Company, with a request for information with respect to the charging of customers practices, and filing of charges and changes in charges with the relevant regulators. If we are found to be violation of the applicable regulation, we could be subject to various sanctions, including monetary sanctions.|
Risks related to our business and our industry
We predominately operate in the container segment of the shipping industry, and the container shipping industry is dynamic and volatile.
Our principal operations are in the container shipping market and we are significantly dependent on conditions in this market, which are for the most part beyond our control. For example, our results in any given period are substantially impacted by supply and demand in the container shipping market, which impacts freight rates, bunker prices, and the prices we pay under the charters for our vessels. Unlike some of our competitors, we do not own any ports or similar ancillary assets (except for minority ownership rights in a company operating a terminal in Tarragona, Spain). Due to our relative lack of diversification, an adverse development in the container shipping industry would have a significant impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
The container shipping industry is dynamic and volatile and has been marked in recent years by instability as a result of global economic crises and the many conditions and factors that affect supply and demand in the shipping industry, which include:
|●||global and regional economic and geopolitical trends, including the short- and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, armed conflicts, terrorist activities, embargoes, strikes and trade wars;|
|●||the global supply of and demand for commodities and industrial products globally and in certain key markets, such as China;|
|●||developments in international trade, including the imposition of tariffs, the modification of trade agreements between states and other trade protectionism (for example, in the U.S.-China trade);|
|●||currency exchange rates;|
|●||prices of energy resources;|
|●||environmental and other regulatory developments;|
|●||changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns;|
|●||changes in the shipping industry, including mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, restructurings and alliances;|
|●||changes in the infrastructure and capabilities of ports and terminals;|
|●||outbreaks of diseases, including the COVID-19 pandemic; and|
|●||development of digital platforms to manage operations and customer relations, including billing and services.|
As a result of some of these factors, including cyclical fluctuations in demand and supply, container shipping companies have experienced volatility in freight rates. For example, the comprehensive Shanghai (Export) Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) increased from 818 points on April 23, 2020, with the global outbreak of COVID-19, to 5,047 as of December 31, 2021. Since the middle of 2020 the industry has witnessed a sharp and unprecedented increase in freight rates, reflecting the sudden demand surge triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented supply chain disruptions. Furthermore, rates within the charter market, through which we source most of our capacity, may continue to fluctuate significantly based upon changes in supply and demand for shipping services. The current severe shortage of vessels available for hire has resulted in increased charter rates and longer charter periods dictated by owners. See below – “We charter-in most of our fleet, which makes us more sensitive to fluctuations in the charter market, and as a result of our dependency on the vessel charter market, the costs associated with chartering vessels are unpredictable.”
As global trends continue to change, it remains difficult to predict their impact on the container shipping industry and on our business. If we are unable to adequately predict and respond to market changes, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has created significant business disruptions and affected our business and is likely to continue to create significant business disruptions and affect our business in the future.
In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of novel coronavirus COVID-19 a global pandemic. During the past two years the COVID-19 pandemic has spread globally and caused high mortality and morbidity rates world-wide, with some geographic regions affected more than others. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the global economy, disrupted global supply chains, created significant volatility and disruption in financial markets and increased unemployment levels in some of its phases, all of which may become heightened concerns upon additional waves of infection or future developments. In addition, the pandemic has resulted in temporary closures of many businesses and the institution of social distancing and sheltering in place requirements in many states and communities. In particular, the State of Israel where our head office is located has been highly affected by COVID-19, with a high and steady increase in percentage per capita of reported cases of infected patients, especially with the recent Omicron variant. Since March 2020, and in response to new pandemic waves of COVID-19, the Government of Israel imposed from time to time certain measures such as restrictions on travel, mandatory quarantines, partial home confinement and other movement restrictions, reducing staffing of nonessential businesses, restricting public transportation and other public activities. Although we are considered an essential business and therefore enjoy certain exemptions from the restrictions under Israeli regulations, we have voluntary reduced our maximum permitted percentage of staffing in our offices in order to mitigate the COVID-19 risks and have therefore relied more on remote connectivity. Similarly, our sea crews and staff located in offices worldwide have been adversely affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and may continue to be adversely affected by the pandemic in the future. In addition, since December 2020 the US Food and Drug Administration FDA issued three Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for COVID-19 vaccines applications, launching COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in many countries worldwide. While certain countries such as the State of Israel, the US and the UK are in advanced stages of the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, other countries have been unable to vaccinate their population at the same pace. In addition, as new variants of the virus emerge, there is no certainty that the vaccines will continue to be effective for all existing and future variants of the virus. We continue to monitor our operations and government regulations, guidelines and recommendations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in reduced industrial activity in various countries around the world, with temporary closures of factories and other facilities such as port terminals, which led to a temporary decrease in supply of goods and congestion in warehouses and terminals. For example, in January 2020, the government of China imposed a lockdown during the Chinese New Year holiday which prevented many workers from returning to the manufacturing facilities, resulting in prolonged reduction of manufacturing and export. Government-mandated shutdowns in various countries have also temporarily decreased consumption of goods, negatively affecting trade volumes and the shipping industry globally during the first half of 2020. Moreover, because of COVID-19, we face risks to our personnel and operations. Such risks include delays in the loading and discharging of cargo on or from our vessels due to severe congestion at ports and inland supply chains, difficulties in carrying out crew changes, offhire time due to quarantine regulations, delays and expenses in finding substitute crew members if any of our vessels’ crew members become infected, delays in drydocking if insufficient shipyard personnel are working due to quarantines or travel restrictions, difficulties in procuring new containers due to temporary factories’ shutdowns and increased risk of cyber-security threats due to our employees working remotely. Fear of the virus and the efforts to prevent its spread continue to exert increasing pressure on the supply-demand balance, which could also put financial pressure on our customers and increase the credit risk that we face in respect of some of them. Such events have affected our operations and may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, these and other impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic could have the effect of heightening many of the other risk factors disclosed in this Annual Report.
A decrease in the level of China’s export of goods could have a material adverse effect on our business.
According to the world shipping council (WSC), the Asia trade regions represent approximately 70% of the total TEUs of international container trade, and the Intra-Asia trade alone accounts for at least one quarter of the global market. Although we also operate in many countries in Asia, the Far East and southeast Asia (such as Vietnam, South Korea and Thailand), a significant portion of our business originates from China and therefore depends on the level of imports and exports to and from China. Trade tensions between the US and China have intensified in recent years, and trade restrictions have reduced bilateral trade between the US and China and led to shifts in trade structure and reductions in container trade. For more information on the risks related to US/China trade restrictions, see “— Our business may be adversely affected by trade protectionism.” Furthermore, as China exports considerably more goods than it imports, any reduction in or hindrance to China-based exports, whether due to decreased demand from the rest of the world, an economic slowdown in China, seasonal decrease in manufacturing levels due to the Chinese New Year holiday or other factors, could have a material adverse effect on our business. For instance, in recent years the Chinese government has implemented economic policies aimed at increasing domestic consumption of Chinese-made goods and national security measures for Hong Kong which may have the effect of reducing the supply of goods available for export and may, in turn, result in decreased demand for cargo shipping. In recent years, China has experienced an increasing level of economic autonomy and a gradual shift toward a “market economy” and enterprise reform. However, many of the reforms implemented, particularly some price limit reforms, are unprecedented or experimental and may be subject to revision, change or abolition. The level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by changes to these economic reforms by the Chinese government, as well as by changes in political, economic and social conditions or other relevant policies of the Chinese government. Changes in laws and regulations, including with regard to tax matters, and their implementation by local authorities could affect our vessels calling on Chinese ports and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Imbalance between supply of global container ship capacity and demand may limit our ability to operate our vessels profitably.
According to Alphaliner, as of December 31, 2021, global container ship capacity was approximately 25 million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, spread across approximately 5,515 vessels. Furthermore, global container ship capacity has increased by 4.5% in 2021, while demand for shipping services is projected to increase by 6.7%, therefore the increase in ship capacity is expected to be less than the increase in demand for container shipping for a second consecutive year. During the first half of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has caused a decrease in demand for goods, causing carriers to adopt mitigating measures such as blank sailings and redelivery of chartered vessels. However, during the second half of 2020 and in 2021 carriers resumed temporarily halted service lines, performed additional sailings, and reduced the number of idle vessels to a minimum because of a significant increase in demand and a market shift to consumption of goods over services. The increased demand for container shipping and inventory restocking during 2021 persisted for a longer period than initially anticipated, leading to reduced port productivity, disrupted sailing schedule, shortage of trucks, railways and warehousing capacity. Supply chain disruptions became a factor influencing demand and supply, while concerns regarding the vaccine rates, turnaround in the pandemic, renewed waves and new variants of the virus continue to pose risk for future worldwide demand. In an attempt to meet the sharp demand increase during 2021, we have expanded our operated vessel fleet from 87 vessels as of January 1, 2021, to 118 vessels as of December 31, 2021 (including three purchased secondhand vessels already delivered out of a total of eight vessels purchased), as well as entered into strategic long term charter transactions. For example, we have entered into strategic agreements with Seaspan for the long-term charter of ten 15,000 TEU liquified natural gas (LNG) vessels and fifteen 7,000 TEU LNG vessels. See “Item 4.B - Business Overview - Our vessel fleet - Strategic chartering agreements”.
Responses to changes in market conditions may be slower as a result of the time required to build new vessels and adapt to market needs and due to the severe shortage of vessels in the charter market. As shipping companies purchase vessels years in advance of their actual use to address expected demand, vessels may be delivered during times of decreased demand (or oversupply if other carriers act in kind) or unavailable during times of increased demand, leading to a supply/demand mismatch. The container shipping industry may face oversupply in the coming years and numerous other factors beyond our control may also contribute to increased capacity, including deliveries of refurbished or converted vessels, port and canal congestion, decreased scrapping levels of older vessels, any increase in the practice of slow steaming, a reduction in the number of void voyages and a decrease in the number of vessels that are out of service (e.g., vessels that are laid-up, drydocked, or are otherwise not available for hire). In the event of overcapacity, there is no guarantee that measures of blank sailings and redelivery of chartered vessels will prove successful, partially or at all in mitigating the gap between excess supply and demand. Excess capacity generally depresses freight rates and can lead to lower utilization of vessels, which may adversely affect our revenues and costs of operations, profitability and asset values. Overcapacity can cause the industry to experience downward pressure on freight rates and such prolonged pressure could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.
Access to ports could be limited or unavailable, including due to congestion in terminals and inland supply chains, and we may incur additional costs as a result thereof
Global development of new terminals continues to be outpaced by the increase in demand. In addition, the increasing vessel size of containership newbuilding has forced adjustments to be made to existing container terminals. As such, existing terminals are coping with high berth utilization and space limitations of stacking yards, which are at near-full capacity. This results in longer cargo operations times for the vessels and port congestions, which could increase operational costs and have a material adverse effect on affected shipping lines. Decisions about container terminal expansion and port access are made by national or local governments and are outside of our control. Such decisions are based on local policies and concerns and the interests of the container shipping industry may not be considered.
Our access to ports may also be limited or unavailable due to other reasons. As industry capacity and demand for container shipping continue to grow, we may have difficulty in securing sufficient berthing windows to expand our operations in accordance with our growth strategy, due to the limited availability of terminal facilities.
Our status as an Israeli company has limited, and may continue to limit, our ability to call on certain ports. Furthermore, major ports may close for long periods of time due to maintenance, natural disasters, strikes, pandemics, including COVID-19, or other reasons beyond our control. For example, in August 2021, a key terminal in Ningbo-Zhoushan port, one of China’s busiest ports, was temporarily shut down after it was reported that a worker was found to be infected with COVID-19. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions to global trade and severe congestion at ports and inland supply chains. Ports and terminals may implement certain measures and work procedures intended to relieve congestion which may also limit our access to terminals and apply additional costs to us or to our customers. For example, in October 2021 the port of Los Angeles and the port of Long Beach, California, together with the Biden-Harris Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, US Department of Transportation, introduced a new dwell fee to be applied against containers that remained in the terminal longer than a specified permitted amount of days. While this dwell fee was announced to be originally collected commencing on November 1, 2021, its implementation date was delayed several times as congestion conditions improved. We have taken measures to relieve congestion at these ports and avoid dwell fee charges. Similar measures may be imposed in other ports and terminals in other geographical areas. We cannot ensure you that our efforts to secure sufficient port access will be successful. Any of these factors may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Changing trading patterns, trade flows and sharpening trade imbalances may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our TEUs carried can vary depending on the balance of trade flows between different world regions. For each service we operate, we measure the utilization of a vessel on the “strong,” or dominant, leg, as well as on the “weak,” or counter-dominant, leg by dividing the actual number of TEUs carried on a vessel by the vessel’s effective capacity. Utilization per voyage is generally higher when transporting cargo from net export regions to net import regions (the dominant leg). Considerable expenses may result when empty containers must be transported on the counter-dominant leg. We seek to manage the container repositioning costs that arise from the imbalance between the volume of cargo carried in each direction by utilizing our global network to increase cargo on the counter-dominant leg and by triangulating our land transportation activities and services. If we are unable to successfully match demand for container capacity with available capacity in nearby locations, we may incur significant balancing costs to reposition our containers in other areas where there is demand for capacity. It is not guaranteed that we will always be successful in minimizing the costs resulting from the counter-dominant leg trade, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, sharpening imbalances in world trade patterns — rising trade deficits of net import regions in relation to net export regions — may exacerbate imbalances between the dominant and counter-dominant legs of our services. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our ability to participate in operational partnerships in the shipping industry is limited, which may adversely affect our business, and following the amendment of our strategic collaboration with the 2M Alliance, we or the 2M Alliance can unilaterally terminate the agreement after an initial period of 18 months subject to provision of notice
The container shipping industry has experienced a reduction in the number of major carriers, as well as a continuation and increase of the trends of strategic alliances and partnerships among container carriers, which can result in more efficient and better coverage for shipping companies participating in such arrangements. For example, in 2016 CSCL was acquired by COSCO, APL-NOL was acquired by CMA CGM, United Arab Shipping Company merged with Hapag-Lloyd and Hanjin Shipping exited the market as a result of a bankruptcy, during 2017, Hamburg Sud was acquired by Maersk, three large Japanese carriers, K-Line, MOL and NYK merged into ONE and OOCL was acquired by COSCO, and in April 2020, Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) consummated the termination of its strategic cooperation with 2M and joined THE Alliance. Although there were no major transactions during 2021, past consolidation in the industry has affected the existing strategic alliances between shipping companies. For example, the Ocean Three alliance, which consisted of CMA CGM Shipping, United Arab Shipping Company and China Shipping Container Lines, was terminated in 2019 and replaced by the Ocean Alliance, consisting of COSCO Shipping Group (including China Shipping and OOCL), CMA CGM Shipping Group (including APL) and Evergreen Marine.
We are not party to any strategic alliances and therefore have not been able to achieve the benefits associated with being a member of such an alliance. If, in the future, we would like to enter into a strategic alliance but are unable to do so, we may be unable to achieve the cost and other synergies that can result from such alliances. However, we are party to operational partnerships with other carriers in some of the other trade zones in which we operate, and may seek to enter into additional operational partnerships or similar arrangements with other shipping companies or local operators, partners or agents. For example, in September 2018, we entered into a strategic operational cooperation agreement with the 2M Alliance in the Asia-USEC trade zone. In March and August 2019, we expanded our strategic partnership with the 2M Alliance by entering into additional cooperation agreements, to cover the Asia-East Mediterranean, Asia-American Pacific Northwest and Asia-US Gulf trade zones. In addition, at the end of 2020 we further upsized a joint service by utilizing larger vessels on the Asia-U.S. Gulf Coast service and in June 2021 we launched a new joint service line connecting from Yantian and Vietnam to U.S. South Atlantic ports via Panama Canal with the 2M Alliance. In January and February 2022, we announced our principal agreement with the 2M to extend the existing collaboration agreements on the Asia- USEC and Asia-USGC, as well as the intention to launch an independent pendulum service on the Asia-Mediterranean and Pacific Northwest trades, replacing our cooperation with the 2M Alliance on those trades, effective as of April 2022. Under our new collaboration agreement with the 2M, we or the 2M Alliance may not terminate the agreement during the first 18 months of the agreement term (by providing a six-month prior written notice following a 12-month period from the effective date of the agreement), which is a shorter period compared to the original agreement terms. For additional information on our strategic operational cooperation with the 2M Alliance, see “Item 4.B - Business Overview — Our operational partnerships.” A termination of our existing operational agreements, including with the 2M Alliance, or any future cooperation agreement we may enter into, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
These strategic cooperation agreements and other arrangements could also reduce our flexibility in decision making in the covered trade zones, and we are subject to the risk that the expected benefits of the agreements may not materialize. Furthermore, in other trade zones in which other alliances operate, we are still unable to benefit from the economies of scale that many of our competitors are able to achieve through participation in strategic arrangements (i.e., strategic alliances or operational agreements). Our status as an Israeli company has limited, and may continue to limit, our ability to call on certain ports and has therefore limited, and may continue to limit, our ability to enter into alliances or operational partnerships with certain shipping companies. In addition, our existing collaboration with the 2M Alliance may limit our ability to enter into alliances or other certain operational agreements. If we are not successful in expanding or entering into additional operational partnerships which are beneficial to us, this could adversely affect our business.
Global economic downturns and geopolitical challenges throughout the world could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business and operating results have been, and will continue to be, affected by worldwide and regional economic and geopolitical challenges, including global economic downturns. In particular, the recent military conflict between Russia and the Ukraine has caused a sharp decline in the financial markets and a sharp increase in bunker prices. Furthermore, freight movement and supply chains in Ukraine and neighboring countries have been, and may continue to be, significantly disrupted. Economic sanctions levied on Russia and its leaders may cause further global economic downturns. A further deterioration of the current conflict or other
geopolitical instabilities may cause global markets to plummet, affect global trade, increase bunker prices and may have a material adverse effect on our business a financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.
Currently, global demand for container shipping is highly volatile across regions and remains subject to downside risks stemming mainly from factors such as government-mandated shutdowns and other restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, severe hits to the GDP growth of both advanced and developing countries, fiscal fragility in advanced economies, high sovereign debt levels, highly accommodative macroeconomic policies and persistent difficulties accessing credit. During 2020 the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an immediate and sharp decline in economic activity worldwide. From the second half of 2020 market conditions improved with higher demand mainly by heavy consumers’ purchase orders and e-commerce sales. The increase in demand combined with congestions and bottlenecks in the terminals, led to a temporary significant containers shortage which also resulted in surge in the freight rates, climbing up to record-breaking levels. Economic recoveries from the COVID-19 pandemic are still uncertain, vary from each country and are influenced by government economic support measures as well as the pace of vaccine campaigns. According to a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy entered 2022 in a weaker position than previously expected, with reimposition of mobility restrictions due to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising energy prices and higher inflation rates, especially in the U.S. Such factors contributed to a projected global growth decrease of 4.4% during 2022, compared to 5.9% during 2021.
The deterioration in the global economy has caused, and may continue to cause, volatility or a decrease in worldwide demand for certain goods shipped in containerized form. In particular, if growth in the regions in which we conduct significant operations, including the United States, Asia and the Black Sea, Europe and Mediterranean regions, slows for a prolonged period and/or there is additional significant deterioration in the global economy, such conditions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.
If these or other global conditions continue to deteriorate during 2022, global growth may take another downturn and demand in the shipping industry may decrease. Geopolitical challenges such as rising inflation in the U.S. as well as in other dominant countries, enhanced and other political crises and military conflicts and further escalation between the U.S. and Russia, trade wars, weather and natural disasters, embargoes and canal closures could also have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, as a result of weak economic conditions, some of our customers and suppliers have experienced deterioration of their businesses, cash flow shortages and/or difficulty in obtaining financing. As a result, our existing or potential customers and suppliers may delay or cancel plans to purchase our services or may be unable to fulfill their obligations to us in a timely fashion.
Our business may be adversely affected by trade protectionism in the markets that we serve, particularly in China.
Our operations are exposed to the risk of increased trade protectionism. Governments may use trade barriers in an effort to protect their domestic industries against foreign imports, thereby further depressing demand for container shipping services. In recent years, increased trade protectionism in the markets that we access and serve, particularly in China, where a significant portion of our business originates, has caused, and may continue to cause, increases in the cost of goods exported and the risks associated with exporting goods as well as a decrease in the quantity of goods shipped. In November 2020 China and additional 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region entered into the largest free trade pact, the RCEP Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), which is expected to strengthen China’s position on trade protectionism related matters. China’s import and export of goods may continue to be affected by trade protectionism, specifically the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute, which has been characterized by escalating trade barriers between the U.S. and China as well as trade relations among other countries. These risks may have a direct impact on demand in the container shipping industry. In January 2020 China and the U.S. reached an agreement aimed at easing the trade war. However, there is no assurance that further escalation will be avoided.
The U.S. administration has advocated greater restrictions on trade generally and significant increases on tariffs on certain goods imported into the United States, particularly from China and has taken steps toward restricting trade in certain goods. China and other countries have retaliated in response to new trade policies, treaties and tariffs implemented by the United States. China has imposed significant tariffs on U.S. imports since 2018. Such trade escalations have had, and may continue to have, an adverse effect on manufacturing levels, trade levels and specifically, may cause an increase in the cost of goods exported from Asia Pacific and the risks associated with exporting goods from the region. Such increases may also affect the quantity of goods to be shipped, shipping time schedules, voyage costs and other associated costs. Further, increased tensions may adversely affect oil demand, which would have an adverse effect on shipping rates. They could also result in an increased number of vessels sailing from China with less than their full
capacity being met. These restrictions may encourage local production over foreign trade which may, in turn, affect the demand for maritime shipping. In addition, there is uncertainty regarding further trade agreements such as with the EU, trade barriers or restrictions on trade in the United States. Any increased trade barriers or restrictions on trade may affect the global demand for our services and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The container shipping industry is highly competitive and competition may intensify even further, which could negatively affect our market position and financial performance.
We compete with a large number of global, regional and niche container shipping companies, including, for example, Maersk, MSC, COSCO Shipping, CMA CGM S.A., Hapag-Lloyd AG, ONE and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation to provide transport services to customers worldwide. In each of our key trades, we compete primarily with global container shipping companies. The cargo shipping industry is highly competitive, with the top three carriers in terms of global capacity — A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, Mediterranean Shipping Company and CMA CGM — accounting for approximately 46.3% of global capacity, and the remaining carriers together contributing less than 53.7% of global capacity as of December 31, 2021, according to Alphaliner. Certain of our large competitors may be better positioned and have greater financial resources than us and may therefore be able to offer more attractive schedules, services and rates. Some of these competitors operate larger fleets with larger vessels and with higher vessel ownership levels than us and may be able to gain market share by supplying their services at aggressively low freight rates for a sustained period of time. In addition, mergers and acquisition activities within the container shipping industry in recent years have further concentrated global capacity with certain of our competitors. See “— Our ability to participate in operational partnerships in the shipping industry is limited, which may adversely affect our business, and following the amendment of our strategic collaboration with the 2M Alliance, we or the 2M Alliance can unilaterally terminate the agreement after an initial period of 18 months subject to provision of notice.” If one or more of our competitors expands its market share through an acquisition or secures a better position in an attractive niche market in which we operate or intend to enter, we could lose market share as a result of increased competition, which in turn could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be unable to retain existing customers or may be unable to attract new customers.
Our continued success requires us to maintain our current customers and develop new relationships. We cannot guarantee that our customers will continue to use our services in the future or at the current level. We may be unable to maintain or expand our relationships with existing customers or to obtain new customers on a profitable basis due to competitive dynamics. In addition, as some of our customer contracts are longer-term in nature (up to one year), if market freight rates increase, we may not be able to adjust the contractually agreed rates to capitalize on such increased freight rates until the existing contracts expire. Upon the expiration of our existing contracts, we cannot assure you that our customers will renew the contracts on favorable terms, or if at all, or that we will be able to attract new customers. Any adverse effect would be exacerbated if we lose one or more of our significant customers. In 2021, our 10 largest customers represented approximately 17% of our freight revenues and our 50 largest customers represented approximately 32% of our freight revenues. Although we believe we currently have a diversified customer base, we may become dependent upon a few key customers in the future, especially in particular trades, such that we would generate a significant portion of our revenue from a relatively small number of customers. Any inability to retain or replace our existing customers may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Technological developments which affect global trade flows and supply chains are challenging some of our largest customers and may therefore affect our business and results of operations.
By reducing the cost of labor through automation and digitization and empowering consumers to demand goods whenever and wherever they choose, technology is changing the business models and production of goods in many industries, including those of some of our largest customers. Consequently, supply chains are being pulled closer to the end-customer and are required to be more responsive to changing demand patterns. As a result, fewer intermediate and raw inputs are traded, which could lead to a decrease in shipping activity. If automation and digitization become more commercially viable and/or production becomes more regional or local, total containerized trade volumes would decrease, which would adversely affect demand for our services. Supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19, rising tariff barriers and environmental concerns also accelerate these trends.
We rely on third-party contractors and suppliers, as well as our partners and agents, to provide various products and services and unsatisfactory or faulty performance of our contractors, suppliers, partners or agents could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We engage third-party contractors, partners and agents to provide services in connection with our business. An important example is our chartering-in of vessels from ship owners, whereby the ship owner is obligated to provide the vessel’s crew, insurance and maintenance along with the vessel. Another example is our carriers partners whom we rely on for their vessels and service to deliver cargo to our customers, as well as third party agencies who serve as our local agents in specific locations. Disruptions caused by third-party contractors, partners and agents could materially and adversely affect our operations and reputation.
Additionally, a work stoppage at any one of our suppliers, including our land transportation suppliers, could materially and adversely affect our operations if an alternative source of supply were not readily available. Also, we outsource part of our back-office functions to a third-party contractor. The back-office support center may shut down due to various reasons beyond our control, which could have an adverse effect on our business. There can be no assurance that the products delivered and services rendered by our third-party contractors and suppliers will be satisfactory and match the required quality levels. Furthermore, major contractors or suppliers may experience financial or other difficulties, such as natural disasters, terror attacks, failure of information technology systems or labor stoppages, which could affect their ability to perform their contractual obligations to us, either on time or at all. Any delay or failure of our contractors or suppliers to perform their contractual obligations to us could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.
A shortage of qualified sea and shoreside personnel could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Our success depends, in large part, upon our ability to attract and retain highly skilled and qualified personnel, particularly seamen and coast workers who deal directly with activities related to vessel operation and sailing. In crewing our vessels, we require professional and technically skilled employees with specialized training who can perform physically demanding work on board our vessels. As the worldwide container ship fleet continues to grow, the demand for skilled personnel has been increasing, which has led to a shortfall of such personnel. An inability to attract and retain qualified personnel as needed could materially impair our ability to operate, or increase our costs of operations, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. Furthermore, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shipping industry as a whole is experiencing difficulties in carrying out crew changes, which could impede our ability to employ qualified personnel.
Risks related to operating our vessel fleet
We charter-in most of our fleet, which makes us more sensitive to fluctuations in the charter market, and as a result of our dependency on the vessel charter market, the costs associated with chartering vessels are unpredictable.
We charter-in most of our fleet. As of December 31, 2021, of the 118 vessels through which we provide transport services globally, 114 are chartered (including 106 vessels accounted as right-of-use assets under the accounting guidance of IFRS 16 and 4 vessels accounted under sale and leaseback refinancing agreements), which represents a percentage of chartered vessels that is significantly higher than the industry average of 50% (according to Alphaliner). Any rise in charter hire rates could adversely affect our results of operations.
While there have been fluctuations in the demand in the container shipping market, charter demand is currently very high for all vessel sizes, leading to an imbalance in supply and demand and a shortage of vessels available for hire, increased charter rates and longer charter periods dictated by owners. In order to meet the growing cargo demand during the second half of 2020 and throughout 2021, we have increased our chartered operated fleet from 86 as of January 1, 2021, to 114 as of December 31, 2021, including the charter of 8 additional car carrier vessels. In addition, during 2021 we have entered into strategic long term charter agreements. See “Item 4.B - Business Overview – Our vessel fleet – Strategic chartering agreements”.
In order to mitigate the steep increase in charter hire rates, during the second half of 2021 we have completed the purchase transaction of eight secondhand vessels, ranging from 1,100 to 4,250 TEUs each, in several separate transactions, and we may purchase additional secondhanded vessels if we evaluate such purchase is more suited to our needs than other available alternatives. We are also a party to a number of other long-term charter agreements and may enter into additional long-term agreements based on our assessment of current and future market conditions and trends. As of December 31, 2021, 80.7% of our chartered-in vessels (or 81.6% in terms of
TEU capacity) were chartered under leases for terms exceeding one year, and we may be unable to take full advantage of short-term reductions in charter hire rates with respect to such longer-term charters. In addition, in the future we may substitute a short-term charter of one year or less with a long-term charter exceeding one year, which could cause our costs to increase quickly compared to competitors with longer-term charters or owned vessels. To the extent we replace vessels that are chartered-in under short-term leases with vessels that are chartered-in under long- term leases or that are owned by us, the principal amount of our long-term contractual obligations would increase. There can be no assurance that the terms of any such long- term leases will be favorable to us in the long run.
We may face difficulties in chartering or owning enough vessels, including large vessels, to support our growth strategy due to the possible shortage of vessel supply in the market.
Charter rates for container and car carrier vessels are volatile and are currently very high for all vessel sizes, with shortage of supply of vessels for hire. If we are unable in the future to charter vessels of the type and size needed to serve our customers efficiently on terms that are favorable to us, if at all, this may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.
Furthermore, container shipping companies have been incorporating, and are expected to continue to incorporate, larger, more economical vessels into their operating fleets. Particularly, In February 2021 we and Seaspan Corporation entered into a strategic agreements for the long-term charter of ten 15,000 TEU liquified natural gas (LNG dual-fuel) container vessels to serve ZIM’s Asia-US East Coast Trade and other global-niche trades, with the vessels expected to be delivered to us between February 2023 and January 2024. The cost per TEU transported on large vessels is less than the cost per TEU for smaller vessels as, among other factors, larger vessels provide increased capacity and fuel efficiency per carried TEU. As a result, carriers are encouraged to deploy large vessels, particularly within the more competitive trades. According to Alphaliner, vessels in excess of 12,500 TEUs represented approximately 73% of the current global orderbook based on TEU capacity as of December 31, 2021, and approximately 36% of the global fleet based on TEU capacity will consist of vessels in excess of 12,500 TEUs by December 31, 2023. Furthermore, a significant introduction of large vessels, including very large vessels in excess of 18,000 TEUs, into any trade, will enable the transfer of existing, large vessels to other shipping lines on which smaller vessels typically operate. Such transfer, which is referred to as “fleet cascading,” may in turn generate similar effects in the smaller trades in which we operate. Other than our strategic agreement with Seaspan Corporation for the long-term charter of ten 15,000 TEU LNG dual-fuel container vessels, we do not currently have additional agreements in place to procure or charter-in large container vessels (in excess of 12,500 TEU), and the continued deployment of larger vessels by our competitors will adversely impact our competitiveness if we are not able to charter-in, acquire or obtain financing for such vessels on attractive terms or at all. This risk is further exacerbated as a result of our inability to participate in certain alliances and thereby access lager vessels for deployment. Even if we are able to acquire or charter-in larger vessels, we cannot assure you we will be able to achieve utilization of our vessels necessary to operate such vessels profitably.
Rising bunker prices may have an adverse effect on our results of operations.
Fuel expenses, in particular bunker expenses, represent a significant portion of our operating expenses, accounting for 18.9%, 12.8% and 13.8% of our operating expenses and cost of services for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. Bunker price moves in close interdependence with crude oil prices, which have historically exhibited significant volatility. Crude oil prices are influenced by a host of economic and geopolitical factors that are beyond our control, particularly economic developments in emerging markets such as China and India, the US-China trade war, concerns related to the global recession and financial turmoil, policies of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other oil producing countries and production cuts, sanctions on Iran by the US, consumption levels of other transportation industries such as the aviation, rail and car industries, and ongoing political tensions and acts of terror in key production countries such as Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela. Crude oil prices have decreased significantly from annual level of $64 per barrel in 2019 to an average price of $42 per barrel in 2020, due in part to decreased demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing dynamics among OPEC+ members, however, during 2021 crude oil prices have increased to an annual average of $71 per barrel. The recent military conflict between Russia and the Ukraine led to a sharp increase in bunker prices, and bunker prices may increase even further if this conflict continues.
The IMO 2020 Regulations which entered into effect on January 1, 2020, require all ships to burn fuel with a maximum sulfur content of 0.5%, which is a significant reduction from the previous threshold of 3.5%. In addition, certain countries around the world require ships to burn fuel with a maximum sulfur content of 0.1% upon entry to territorial waters. The IMO 2020 Regulation led to increased demand for low sulfur fuel and higher prices for such bunker compared to the price we would have paid had the IMO 2020 Regulations not been adopted. Most of the vessels chartered by us do not have scrubbers, which means we are required to purchase
low sulfur fuel for our vessels. Our vessels began operating on 0.5% low sulfur fuel during the fourth quarter of 2019, and as a result, we implemented a New Bunker Factor, or NBF, surcharge, in December 2019, intended to offset the additional costs associated with compliance with the IMO 2020 Regulations. However, there is no assurance that this surcharge will enable us to mitigate the possible increased costs in full or at all. As a result of the IMO 2020 Regulations and any future regulations with which we must comply, we may incur substantial additional operating costs.
A rise in bunker prices could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. Historically and in line with industry practice, we have imposed from time to time surcharges such as the NBF over the base freight rate we charge to customers in part to minimize our exposure to certain market-related risks, including bunker price adjustments. However, there can be no assurance that we will be successful in passing on future price increases to customers in a timely manner, either for the full amount or at all.
Our bunker consumption is affected by various factors, including the number of vessels being deployed, vessel capacity, pro forma speed, vessel efficiency, the weight of the cargo being transported, port efficiency and sea conditions. We have implemented various optimization strategies designed to reduce bunker consumption, including operating vessels in “super slow steaming” mode, trim optimization, hull and propeller polishing and sailing rout optimization. Additionally, we may sometimes manage part of our exposure to bunker price fluctuations by entering into hedging arrangements with reputable counterparties. Our optimization strategies and hedging activities may not be successful in mitigating higher bunker costs, and any price protection provided by hedging may be limited due to market conditions, such as choice of hedging instruments, and the fact that only a portion of our exposure is hedged. There can be no assurance that our hedging arrangements, if taken, will be cost-effective, will provide sufficient protection, if any, against rises in bunker prices or that our counterparties will be able to perform under our hedging arrangements.
There are numerous risks related to the operation of any sailing vessel and our inability to successfully respond to such risks could have a material adverse effect on us.
There are numerous risks related to the operation of any sailing vessel, including dangers associated with potential marine disasters, mechanical failures, collisions, lost or damaged cargo, poor weather conditions (including severe weather events resulting from climate change), the content of the load, exceptional load (including dangerous and hazardous cargo or cargo the transport of which could affect our reputation), meeting deadlines, risks of documentation, maintenance and the quality of fuels and piracy. For example, we incurred expenses of $11.5 million in respect of claims and demands for lost and damaged cargo for the year ended December 31, 2021. Such claims are typically insured and our deductibles, both individually and in the aggregate, are typically immaterial. In addition, in the past, our vessels have been involved in collisions resulting in loss of life and property as well as weather related events which damaged our cargo. For example, in October 2021, ZIM Kingston, one of our chartered vessels, experienced a collapse and loss of containers due to bad weather which also resulted in a fire erupting onboard while approaching the port of Vancouver. Both vessel and cargo suffered damages, however no personal injuries were involved.
The occurrence of any of the aforementioned risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or liquidity and we may not be adequately insured against any of these risks. For more information about our insurance coverage, see the risk factor entitled “— Our insurance may be insufficient to cover losses that may occur to our property or result from our operations.” For example, acts of piracy have historically affected oceangoing vessels trading in several regions around the world. Although both the frequency and success of attacks have diminished recently, potential acts of piracy continue to be a risk to the international container shipping industry that requires vigilance. Additionally, our vessels may be subject to attempts by smugglers to hide drugs and other contraband onboard. If our vessels are found with contraband, whether with or without the knowledge of any of our crew, we may face governmental or other regulatory claims or penalties as well as suffer damage to our reputation, which could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
As vessel owners we may incur additional costs and liabilities for the operation of our vessel fleet
Although we charter most of our fleet, we currently own and operate 6 vessels, 5 of which were purchased in the past year in several separate transactions, and we may purchase additional vessels, depending on market terms and conditions. As a vessel owner we may incur additional costs due to maintenance and regulatory requirements, most of them described in this Item 3.D and elsewhere of this Annual Report. In addition, as vessel owners we may be exposed to higher risks due to our responsibility to the crew and operational condition of the vessel. We intend to mitigate these vessel owner liability risks by acquiring adequate insurance policy, however our
insurance policy may not cover all or part of our costs. See also below - “Our insurance may be insufficient to cover losses that may occur to our property or result from our operations”.
Our insurance may be insufficient to cover losses that may occur to our property or result from our operations.
The operation of any vessel includes risks such as mechanical failure, collision, fire, contact with floating objects, property loss, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries, hostilities and labor strikes. In addition, there is always an inherent possibility of a marine disaster, including oil spills and other environmental mishaps. There are also liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade. We procure insurance for our fleet in relation to risks commonly insured against by operators and vessel owners, which we believe is adequate. Our current insurance includes (i) hull and machinery insurance covering damage to our and third-party vessels’ hulls and machinery from, among other things and collisions (ii) war risks insurance covering losses associated with the outbreak or escalation of hostilities and (iii) protection and indemnity insurance, entered with reputable protection and indemnity, or P&I, clubs covering, among other things, third-party and crew liabilities such as expenses resulting from the injury or death of crew members, passengers and other third parties, lost or damaged cargo, third-party claims in excess of a vessel’s insured value arising from collisions with other vessels, damage to other third-party property including fixed and floating objects, in excess of a vessel’s insured value and pollution arising from oil or other substances.
While all of our insurers and P&I clubs are highly reputable, we can give no assurance that we are adequately insured against all risks or that our insurers will pay a particular claim. Even if our insurance coverage is adequate to cover our losses, we may not be able to obtain a timely replacement vessel or other equipment in the event of a loss. Under the terms of our credit facilities, insurance proceeds are pledged in favor of the lender who financed the respective vessel. In addition, there are restrictions on the use of insurance proceeds we may receive from claims under our insurance policies. We may also be subject to supplementary calls, or premiums, in amounts based not only on our own claim records but also the claim records of all other members of the P&I clubs through which we receive indemnity insurance coverage. There is no cap on our liability exposure for such calls or premiums payable to our P&I clubs, even though unexpected additional premiums are usually at reasonable levels as they are distributed among a large number of ship owners. Our insurance policies also contain deductibles, limitations and exclusions which, although we believe are standard in the shipping industry, may nevertheless increase our costs. While we do not operate any tanker vessels, a catastrophic oil spill or a marine disaster could, under extreme circumstances, exceed our insurance coverage, which might have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Any uninsured or underinsured loss could harm our business and financial condition. In addition, the insurance may be voidable by the insurers as a result of certain actions, such as vessels failing to maintain required certification. Further, we do not carry loss of hire insurance. Loss of hire insurance covers the loss of revenue during extended vessel off-hire periods, such as those that occur during an unscheduled drydocking due to damage to the vessel from accidents. Any loss of a vessel or any extended period of vessel off-hire, due to an accident or otherwise, could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Maritime claimants could arrest our vessels, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations
Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers or receivers of cargo, vessel owners and lenders and other parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against a vessel for unsatisfied debts, claims or damages, including, in some jurisdictions, for debts incurred by previous owners. In many jurisdictions, a maritime lienholder may enforce its lien by vessel arrest proceedings. Unless such claims are settled, vessels may be subject to foreclosure under the relevant jurisdiction’s maritime court regulations. In some jurisdictions, under the “sister ship” theory of liability, a claimant may arrest both the vessel that is subject to the claimant’s maritime lien and any “associated” vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner. Claimants could try to assert “sister ship” liability against one vessel in our fleet for claims relating to another of our vessels. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels could interrupt our business or require us to pay or deposit large sums to have the arrest lifted, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Governments, including that of Israel, could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency, resulting in loss of earnings.
A government of the jurisdiction where one or more of our vessels are registered, as well as a government of the jurisdiction where the beneficial owner of the vessel is registered, could requisition for title or seize our vessels. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes its owner. A government could also requisition our vessels for hire. Requisition for hire occurs when a government takes control of a ship and effectively becomes the charterer at dictated charter rates. Requisitions generally occur during periods of war or emergency, although governments may elect to requisition vessels in other circumstances. We would expect to be entitled to compensation in the event of a requisition of one or more of our vessels; however, the amount and timing of payment, if any, would be uncertain and beyond our control. For example, our chartered-in and owned vessels, including those that do not sail under the Israeli flag, may be subject to control by Israeli authorities in order to protect the security of, or bring essential supplies and services to, the State of Israel. Government requisition of one or more of our vessels could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks related to regulation
The shipping industry is subject to extensive government regulation and standards, international treaties and trade prohibitions and sanctions.
The shipping industry is subject to extensive regulation that changes from time to time and that applies in the jurisdictions in which shipping companies are incorporated, the jurisdictions in which vessels are registered (flag states), the jurisdictions governing the ports at which vessels call, as well as regulations by virtue of international treaties and membership in international associations. As a global container shipping company, we are subject to a wide variety of international, national and local laws, regulations and agreements. As a result, we are subject to extensive government regulation and standards, customs inspections and security checks, international treaties and trade prohibitions and sanctions, including laws and regulations in each of the jurisdictions in which we operate, including those of the State of Israel, the United States, the International Safety Management Code, or the ISM Code, and the European Union.
Any violation of such laws, regulations, treaties and/or prohibitions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity and may also result in the revocation or non-renewal of our “time-limited” licenses. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, administers certain laws and regulations that impose restrictions upon U.S. companies and persons and, in some contexts, foreign entities and persons, with respect to activities or transactions with certain countries, governments, entities and individuals that are the subject of such sanctions laws and regulations. Similar sanctions are imposed by the European Union and the United Nations. Under economic and trading sanction laws, governments may seek to impose modifications to business practices, and modifications to compliance programs, which may increase compliance costs, and may subject us to fines, penalties and other sanctions. For additional information, see “Item 4.B - Business Overview - Regulatory matters.”
We are subject to competition and antitrust regulations in the countries where we operate, and have been subject to antitrust investigations by competition authorities. Moreover, the recent sharp increase in freight rates and related charges has resulted in increased scrutiny by regulators around the world and we may face antitrust investigations.
We are subject to competition and antitrust regulations in each of the countries where we operate. In most of the jurisdictions in which we operate, operational partnerships among shipping companies are generally exempt from the application of antitrust laws, subject to the fulfillment of certain exemption requirements. However, it is difficult to predict whether existing exemptions or their renewal will be affected in the future. We are a party to numerous operational partnerships and view these agreements as competitive advantages in response to the market concentration in the industry as a result of mergers and global alliances. An amendment to or a revocation of any of the exemptions for operational partnerships that we rely on could negatively affect our business and results of operations. For example, Commission Regulation (EC) No 906/2009, or the Block Exemption Regulation, exempts certain cooperation agreements in the liner shipping sector (such as operational cooperation agreements), from the prohibition on anti-competitive agreements contained at Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, or TFEU. This Block Exemption Regulation is due to expire in May 2024. If the Block Exemption Regulation is not extended or its terms are amended, this could have an adverse effect on the shipping industry and limit our ability to enter into cooperation arrangements with other shipping companies, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In recent years, a number of liner shipping companies, including us, have been the subject of antitrust investigations in the U.S., the EU and other jurisdictions into possible anti-competitive behavior. Furthermore, the recent spike in freight rates and related charges has resulted in increased scrutiny by governments and regulators around the world, including U.S. President Biden's administration and the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in the U.S., and the ministry of transportation in China. Although we have taken measures to fully comply with antitrust regulatory requirements and have adopted a comprehensive antitrust compliance plan, which includes, among other, mandatory periodic employee trainings, we face investigations from time to time, and, if we are found to be in violation of the applicable regulation, we could be subject to criminal, civil and monetary sanctions, as well as related legal proceedings.
We are also subject from time to time to civil litigation relating, directly or indirectly, to alleged anti-competitive practices and may be subject to additional investigations by other competition authorities. These types of claims, actions or investigations could continue to require significant management time and attention and could result in significant expenses as well as unfavorable outcomes which could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. For further information, see “Item 4.B - “Business Overview — Legal Proceedings” and Note 27 to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
We could be adversely affected by violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar anti-bribery laws outside of the United States.
The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or the FCPA, and similar anti-bribery laws in other jurisdictions generally prohibit companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments to government officials or other persons for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Recent years have seen a substantial increase in anti-bribery law enforcement activity, with more frequent and aggressive investigations and enforcement proceedings by both the Department of Justice and the SEC, increased enforcement activity by non-U.S. regulators, and increases in criminal and civil proceedings brought against companies and individuals. Our anti- bribery and anti-corruption plan mandate compliance with these anti-bribery laws, establishes anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies and procedures, imposes mandatory training on our employees and enhances reporting and investigation procedures. We operate in many parts of the world that are recognized as having governmental and commercial corruption. We cannot assure you that our internal control policies and procedures will protect us from reckless or criminal acts committed by our employees or third party intermediaries. In the event that we believe or have reason to believe that our employees or agents have or may have violated applicable anti-corruption laws, including the FCPA, we may be required to investigate or have outside counsel investigate the relevant facts and circumstances, which can be expensive and require significant time and attention from senior management. Violations of these laws may result in criminal or civil sanctions, inability to do business with existing or future business partners (either as a result of express prohibitions or to avoid the appearance of impropriety), injunctions against future conduct, profit disgorgements, disqualifications from directly or indirectly engaging in certain types of businesses, the loss of business permits or other restrictions which could disrupt our business and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or liquidity.
Increased inspection procedures, tighter import and export controls and new security regulations could increase costs and disrupt our business.
International container shipments are subject to security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin, destination, and certain transshipment points. These inspection procedures can result in cargo seizures, delays in the loading, offloading, transshipment, or delivery of containers, and the levying of customs duties, fines or other penalties against us as well as damage our reputation. Changes to existing inspection and security procedures could impose additional financial and legal obligations on us or our customers and may, in certain cases, render the shipment of certain types of cargo uneconomical or impractical. Any such changes or developments may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The operation of our vessels is also affected by the requirements set forth in the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, or the ISPS Code. The ISPS Code requires vessels to develop and maintain a ship security plan that provides security measures to address potential threats to the security of ships or port facilities. Although each of our vessels is ISPS Code-certified, any failure to comply with the ISPS Code or maintain such certifications may subject us to increased liability and may result in denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. Furthermore, compliance with the ISPS Code requires us to incur certain costs. Although such costs have not been material to date, if new or more stringent regulations relating to the ISPS Code are adopted by the International Maritime Organization (the IMO) and the flag states, these requirements could require significant additional capital expenditures by us or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.
We are subject to environmental regulations and failure to comply with these regulations could have a material adverse effect on our business. In addition, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) regulation and reporting is expected to intensify in the future, which could increase our operational costs
Our operations are subject to international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and national and international regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate or are registered relating to the protection of the environment. Such requirements are subject to ongoing developments and amendments and relate to, among other things, the storage, handling, emission, transportation and discharge of hazardous and non-hazardous substances, such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and the use of low- sulfur fuel or shore power voltage, and the remediation of contamination and liability for damages to natural resources. We are subject to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (including designation of Emission Control Areas thereunder), the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water & Sediments, the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea of 1996, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the U.S. Clean Water Act (CWA), and National Invasive Species Act (NISA), among others. Compliance with such laws, regulations and standards, where applicable, may require the installation of costly equipment, make ship modifications or operational changes and may affect the useful lives or the resale value of our vessels.
We may also incur additional compliance costs relating to existing or future ESG requirements, which have recently intensified and are expected to intensify in the future, and which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial conditions. Such costs include, among other things: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and use of "cleaner" fuels, imposition of vessel speed limits, changes with respect to cargo capacity or the types of cargo that could be carried; management of ballast and bilge waters; maintenance and inspection; elimination of tin-based paint; and development and implementation of emergency procedures. For example, the IMO 2020 Regulations have required our vessels to comply with its low sulfur fuel requirement since January 1, 2020. We comply with this requirement by using fuel with low sulfur content, which is more expensive than standard marine fuel, or we may upgrade our vessels to provide cleaner exhaust emissions. Environmental or other incidents may result in additional regulatory initiatives, statutes or changes to existing laws that could affect our operations, require us to incur additional compliance expenses, lead to decreased availability of or more costly insurance coverage, and result in our denial of access to, or detention in, certain jurisdictional waters or ports.
If we fail to comply with any environmental requirements applicable to us, we could be exposed to, among other things, significant environmental liability damages, administrative and civil penalties, criminal charges or sanctions, and could result in the and termination or suspension of, and substantial harm to, our operations and reputation. Additionally, environmental laws often impose strict, joint and several liability for remediation of spills and releases of oil and hazardous substances, which could subject us to liability without regard to whether we were negligent or at fault. Under local, national and foreign laws, as well as international treaties and conventions, we could incur material liabilities, including remediation costs and natural resource damages, as well as third-party damages, personal injury and property damage claims in the event there is a release of petroleum or other hazardous substances from our vessels, or otherwise, in connection with our operations. We are required to satisfy insurance and financial responsibility requirements for potential petroleum (including marine fuel) spills and other pollution incidents. Although we have arranged insurance to cover certain environmental risks, there can be no assurance that such insurance will be sufficient to cover all such risks or that any claims will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Violations of, or liabilities under, environmental requirements can result in substantial penalties, fines and other sanctions, including in certain instances, seizure or detention of our vessels and events of this nature could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations. For further information on the environmental regulations we are subject to and ESG (sustainability), see “Item 4.B - Business Overview - Regulatory matters — Environmental and other regulations.”
Regulations relating to ballast water discharge may adversely affect our results of operation and financial condition.
The IMO has imposed updated guidelines for ballast water management systems specifying the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged from a vessel’s ballast water. Depending on the date of the international oil pollution prevention, or IOPP, renewal survey, existing vessels constructed before September 8, 2017, must comply with the updated D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019, but no later than September 9, 2024. For most vessels, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on- board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms. Vessels constructed on or after September 8, 2017, are required to comply with the D-2 standards. We are subject to costs of compliance, as the increased costs of compliance are passed on to the charter, which may be substantial and may adversely affect our results of operation and financial condition.
Furthermore, U.S. regulations with respect to ballast water discharge are currently changing. Although the 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) program and The National Invasive Species Act (NISA) are currently in effect to regulate ballast discharge, exchange and installation, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018, requires that the EPA develop national standards of performance for approximately 30 discharges, similar to those found in the VGP, by December 2020. EPA published a notice of proposed rulemaking - Vessel Incidental Discharge National Standards of Performance for public comment on October 26, 2020. The comment period closed on November 25, 2020. By approximately 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard must develop corresponding implementation, compliance and enforcement regulations regarding ballast water. The new regulations could require the installation of new equipment, which may cause us to incur substantial costs.
Climate change and greenhouse gas restrictions may adversely affect our operating results.
Many governmental bodies have adopted, or are considering the adoption of, international, treaties, national, state and local laws, regulations and frameworks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to the concern about climate change. These measures in various jurisdictions include the adoption of cap and trade regimes, carbon taxes, increased efficiency standards, and incentives or mandates for renewable energy. In November 2016, the Paris Agreement, which resulted in commitments by 197 countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions with firm target reduction goals, came into force and could result in additional regulation on the shipping. The Glasgow Climate Change Conference held between October and November 2021 with the participation of nearly 200 country leaders reiterated countries' commitment to bringing down emissions and finalized guidelines for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. In addition, several non-governmental organizations and institutional investors have undertaken campaigns with respect to climate change, with goals to minimize or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions through a transition to a low- or zero-net carbon economy.
Compliance with laws, regulations and obligations relating to climate change, including as a result of such international negotiations, as well as the efforts by non-governmental organizations and investors, could increase our costs related to operating and maintaining our vessels and require us to install new emission controls, acquire allowances or pay taxes related to our greenhouse gas emissions, or administer and manage a greenhouse gas emissions program. Revenue generation and strategic growth opportunities may also be adversely affected.
Compliance with safety and other requirements imposed by classification societies may be very costly and may adversely affect our business.
The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society. The classification society certifies that the vessel has been built, maintained and repaired, when necessary, in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the classification society. Moreover, every vessel must comply with all applicable international conventions and the regulations of the vessel’s flag state as verified by a classification society as well as the regulations of the beneficial owner’s country of registration. Finally, each vessel must successfully undergo periodic surveys, including annual, intermediate and special surveys, which may result in recommendations or requirements to undertake certain repairs or upgrades. Currently, all our vessels have the required certifications. However, maintaining class certification could require us to incur significant costs. If any of our owned and certain of our chartered-in vessels does not maintain its class certification, it might lose its insurance coverage and be unable to trade, and we will be in breach of relevant covenants under our financing arrangements, in relation to both failing to maintain the class certification as well as having effective insurance. Failure to maintain the class certification of one or more of our vessels could have, under extreme circumstances, a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.
Changes in tax laws, tax treaties as well as judgments and estimates used in the determination of tax-related asset (liability) and income (expense) amounts, could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We operate in various jurisdictions and may be subject to the tax regimes and related obligations in the jurisdictions in which we operate or do business. Changes in tax laws, bilateral double tax treaties, regulations and interpretations could adversely affect our financial results. The tax rules of the various jurisdictions in which we operate or conduct business often are complex, involve bilateral double tax treaties and are subject to varying interpretations. Specifically, on July 1, 2021, the OECD introduced Pillar Two model rules which are expected to be approved during 2022 and take effect in 2023. The Pillar Two rules were introduced to ensure that large multinational enterprises (MNEs) pay a minimum level of tax on the income arising in each jurisdiction where they operate. The current minimum effective tax rate that was determined under Pillar Two is 15%. While Pillar Two model rules are not intended to be applied to international shipping income, other sources of our income may be affected as a result of Pillar Two entering into effect. We are currently monitoring the developments of Pillar Two legislation process and are evaluating its potential impact on our financial results.
Tax authorities may challenge tax positions that we take or historically have taken, may assess taxes where we have not made tax filings, or may audit the tax filings we have made and assess additional taxes. Such assessments, either individually or in the aggregate, could be substantial and could involve the imposition of penalties and interest. For such assessments, from time to time, we use external advisors. In addition, governments could impose new taxes on us or increase the rates at which we are taxed in the future. The payment of substantial additional taxes, penalties or interest resulting from tax assessments, or the imposition of any new taxes, could materially and adversely impact our results, financial condition and liquidity. Additionally, our provision for income taxes and reporting of tax-related assets and liabilities require significant judgments and the use of estimates. Amounts of tax-related assets and liabilities involve judgments and estimates of the timing and probability of recognition of income, deductions and tax credits. Actual income taxes could vary significantly from estimated amounts due to the future impacts of, among other things, changes in tax laws, regulations and interpretations, our financial condition and results of operations, as well as the resolution of any audit issues raised by taxing authorities.
Risks related to our financial position and results
If we are unable to generate sufficient cash flows from our operations, our liquidity will suffer and we may be unable to satisfy our obligations and operational needs.
Our ability to generate cash flow from operations to cover our operational costs and to make payments in respect of our obligations, financial liabilities (mainly lease liabilities) and operational needs will depend on our future performance, which will be affected by a range of economic, competitive and business factors. We cannot control many of these factors, including general economic conditions and the health of the shipping industry. If we are unable to generate sufficient cash flow from operations to satisfy our obligations, liabilities and operational needs, we may need to borrow funds or undertake alternative financing plans, or reducing or delaying capital investments and other costs. It may be difficult for us to incur additional debt on commercially reasonable terms due to, among other things, our financial position and results of operations and market conditions. Our inability to generate sufficient cash flows from operations or obtain additional funds or alternative financing on acceptable terms could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Volatile market conditions could negatively affect our business, financial position, or results of operations and could thereby result in impairment charges.
As of the end of each of our reporting periods, we examine whether there have been any events or changes in circumstances, such as a decline in freight rates or other general economic or market conditions, which may indicate an impairment. When there are indications of an impairment, an examination is made as to whether the carrying amount of the operating assets or cash generating units, or CGUs, exceeds the recoverable amount. and, if necessary, an impairment loss is recognized in our financial statements.
For each of the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, we concluded there were no indications for potential impairment, or that the recoverable amount of our CGU was higher than the carrying amount of our CGU and, as a result, did not recognize an impairment loss in our financial statements. However, we cannot assure you that we will not recognize impairment losses in future years. If an impairment loss is recognized, our results of operations will be negatively affected. Should freight rates decline significantly or we or the shipping industry experience adverse conditions, this may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition, which may result in us recording an impairment charge.
Foreign exchange rate fluctuations and controls could have a material adverse effect on our earnings and the strength of our balance sheet.
Since we generate revenues in a number of geographic regions across the globe, we are exposed to operations and transactions in other currencies. A material portion of our expenses are denominated in local currencies other than the U.S. dollar. Most of our revenues and a significant portion of our expenses are denominated in the U.S. dollar, creating a partial natural hedge. To the extent other currencies increase in value relative to the U.S. dollar, our margins may be adversely affected. Foreign exchange rates may also impact trade between countries as fluctuations in currencies may impact the value of goods as between two trading countries. Where possible, we endeavor to match our foreign currency revenues and costs to achieve a natural hedge against foreign exchange and transaction risks, although there can be no assurance that these measures will be effective in the management of these risks. Consequently, short-term or long-term exchange rate movements or controls may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. In addition, foreign exchange controls in countries in which we operate may limit our ability to repatriate funds from foreign affiliates or otherwise convert local currencies into U.S. dollars.
Our operating results may be subject to seasonal fluctuations.
The markets in which we operate have historically exhibited seasonal variations in demand and, as a result, freight rates have also historically exhibited seasonal variations. This seasonality can have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations. As global trends that affect the shipping industry have changed rapidly in recent years, it remains difficult to predict these trends and the extent to which seasonality will be a factor affecting our results of operations in the future. See “Item 5. - Operating and Financial Review and Prospects — Factors affecting comparability of financial position and results of operations — Seasonality.”
Risks related to our operations in Israel
We are incorporated and based in Israel and, therefore, our results may be adversely affected by political, economic and military instability in Israel.
We are incorporated and our headquarters are located in Israel and the majority of our key employees, officers and directors are residents of Israel. Additionally, the terms of the Special State Share require us to maintain our headquarters and to be incorporated in Israel, and to have our chairman, chief executive officer and a majority of our board members be Israeli. As an Israeli company, we have relatively high exposure, compared to many of our competitors, to acts of terror, hostile activities including cyber-attacks, security limitations imposed upon Israeli organizations overseas, possible isolation by various organizations and institutions for political reasons and other limitations (such as restrictions against entering certain ports). Political, economic and military conditions in Israel may directly affect our business and existing relationships with certain foreign corporations, as well as affect the willingness of potential partners to enter into business arrangements with us. Numerous countries, corporations and organizations limit their business activities in Israel and their business ties with Israeli-based companies. Our status as an Israeli company may limit our ability to call on certain ports and therefore could limit our ability to enter into alliances or operational partnerships with certain shipping companies, which has historically adversely affected our operations and our ability to compete effectively within certain trades. In addition, our status as an Israeli company may limit our ability to enter into alliances that include certain carriers who are not willing to cooperate with Israeli companies.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, a number of armed conflicts have taken place between Israel and its neighboring countries. In recent years, these have included hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, both of which resulted in rockets being fired into Israel, causing casualties and disrupting economic activities. Recent political uprisings, social unrest and violence in the Middle East and North Africa, including Israel’s neighbors Egypt and Syria, are affecting the political stability of those countries. This instability has raised concerns regarding security in the region and the potential for armed conflict. In addition, Israel faces threats from more distant neighbors, in particular, Iran. Iran is also believed to have a strong influence among parties hostile to Israel in areas that neighbor Israel, such as the Syrian government, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Armed conflicts or hostilities in Israel or neighboring countries could cause disruptions in our operations, including significant employee absences, failure of our information technology systems and cyber-attacks, which may lead to the shutdown of our headquarters in Israel. For instance, during the 2006 Lebanon War, a military conflict took place in Lebanon. As a result of rocket fire in the city of Haifa, we closed our headquarters for several days. Although we maintain an emergency plan, such events can have material effects on our operational activities. Any future deterioration in the security or geopolitical conditions in Israel or the Middle East could adversely impact our business relationships and thereby have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or liquidity. If our facilities, including our headquarters, become temporarily or permanently disabled by an act of terrorism or war, it may be necessary for us to develop alternative infrastructure and we may not be able to avoid service interruptions. Additionally, our owned and chartered-in vessels, including those vessels that do not sail under the Israeli flag, may be subject to control by the authorities of the State of Israel in order to protect the security of, or bring essential supplies and services to, the State of Israel. Israeli legislation also allows the State of Israel to use our vessels in times of emergency. Any of the aforementioned factors may negatively affect us and our results of operations.
Our commercial insurance does not cover losses that may occur as a result of an event associated with the security situation in the Middle East. The Israeli government currently provides compensation only for physical property damage caused by terrorist attacks or acts of war, based on the difference between the asset value before the attack and immediately after the attack or on any cost of repairing the damage, whichever is lower. Any losses or damages incurred by us could have a material adverse effect on our business. Any armed conflict involving Israel could adversely affect our business and results and operations.
Further, our operations could be disrupted by the obligations of personnel to perform military service.
As of December 31, 2021, we had approximately 770 employees based in Israel, certain of whom may be called upon to perform several weeks of annual military reserve duty until they reach the age qualifying them for an exemption (generally 40 for men who are not officers or do not have specified military professions) and, in certain emergency circumstances, may be called to immediate and unlimited active duty. Our operations could be disrupted by the absence of a significant number of employees related to military service, which could materially adversely affect our business and operations.
Provisions of Israeli law and our articles of association may delay, prevent or otherwise impede a merger with, or an acquisition of, our company, even when the terms of such a transaction are favorable to us and our shareholders.
Israeli corporate law regulates mergers, requires tender offers for acquisitions of shares above specified thresholds, requires special approvals for transactions involving directors, officers or significant shareholders and regulates other matters that may be relevant to such types of transactions. For example, a tender offer for all of a company’s issued and outstanding shares can only be completed if shares constituting less than 5% of the issued share capital are not tendered. Completion of a full tender offer also requires acceptance by a majority of the offerees that do not have a personal interest in the tender offer, unless less than 2% of the company’s outstanding shares are not tendered. Furthermore, the shareholders, including those who indicated their acceptance of the tender offer (unless the acquirer stipulated in its tender offer that a shareholder that accepts the offer may not seek appraisal rights), may, at any time within six months following the completion of the full tender offer, petition an Israeli court to alter the consideration for the shares. In addition, special tender offer requirements may also apply upon a purchaser becoming a holder of 25% or more of the voting rights in a company (if there is no other shareholder of the company holding 25% or more of the voting rights in the company) or upon a purchaser becoming a holder of more than 45% of the voting rights in the company (if there is no other shareholder of the company who holds more than 45% of the voting rights in the company).
Furthermore, Israeli tax considerations may make potential transactions unappealing to us or to our shareholders whose country of residence does not have a tax treaty with Israel exempting such shareholders from Israeli tax. For example, Israeli tax law does not generally recognize tax-free share exchanges to the same extent as U.S. tax law. With respect to mergers involving an exchange of shares, Israeli tax law allows for tax deferral in certain circumstances but makes the deferral contingent on the fulfillment of a number of conditions, including, in some cases, a holding period of two years from the date of the transaction during which sales and dispositions of shares of the participating companies are subject to certain restrictions. Moreover, with respect to certain share swap transactions in which the sellers receive shares in the acquiring entity that are publicly traded on a stock exchange, the tax deferral is limited in time, and when such time expires, the tax becomes payable even if no disposition of such shares has occurred. In order to benefit from the tax deferral, a pre-ruling from the Israel Tax Authority might be required.
It may be difficult to enforce a judgment of a U.S. court against us, our officers and directors or the Israeli experts named in this Annual Report in Israel or the United States, to assert U.S. securities laws claims in Israel or to serve process on our officers and directors and these experts.
We are incorporated in Israel. The majority of our directors and executive officers, and the Israeli experts listed in this Annual Report reside outside of the United States, and most of our assets and most of the assets of these persons are located outside of the United States. Therefore, a judgment obtained against us, or any of these persons, including a judgment based on the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws, may not be collectible in the United States and may not be enforced by an Israeli court. It may also be difficult to effect service of process on these persons in the United States or to assert U.S. securities law claims in original actions instituted in Israel. Israeli courts may refuse to hear a claim based on an alleged violation of U.S. securities laws reasoning that Israel is not the most appropriate forum in which to bring such a claim. In addition, even if an Israeli court agrees to hear a claim, it may determine that Israeli law and not U.S. law is applicable to the claim. If U.S. law is found to be applicable, the content of applicable U.S. law must be proven as a fact by expert witnesses, which can be a time consuming and costly process. Certain matters of procedure will also be governed by Israeli law. There is little binding case law in Israel that addresses the matters described above. As a result of the difficulty associated with enforcing a judgment against us in Israel, you may not be able to collect any damages awarded by either a U.S. or foreign court.
Our articles of association provide a choice of forum provision that may limit a shareholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable.
Our articles of association provides that unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, and other than with respect to plaintiffs or a class of plaintiffs which may be entitled to assert in the courts of the State of Israel, with respect to any causes of action arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, the federal district courts of the United States of America will be the exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act. Our articles of association will further provide that unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Haifa District Court will be the exclusive forum for the following: (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers or other employees, to us or to our shareholders, or (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Companies Law or the Israeli Securities Law of 1968.
This choice of forum provision may limit a shareholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits. While the validity of choice of forum provisions has been upheld under the law of certain jurisdictions, uncertainty remains as to whether our choice of forum provision will be recognized by all jurisdictions, including by courts in Israel. If a court were to find either choice of forum provision contained in our articles of association to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Your rights and responsibilities as a shareholder are governed by Israeli law, which differs in some material respects from the rights and responsibilities of shareholders of U.S. companies.
We are incorporated in Israel. The rights and responsibilities of the holders of our ordinary shares are governed by our articles of association and by the Israeli law. These rights and responsibilities differ in some material respects from the rights and responsibilities of shareholders in U.S.- based corporations. In particular, a shareholder of an Israeli company has a duty to act in good faith and in a customary manner in exercising its rights and performing its obligations towards the company and other shareholders, and to refrain from abusing its power in the company, including, among other things, in voting at a general meeting of shareholders on matters such as amendments to a company’s articles of association, increases in a company’s authorized share capital, mergers and acquisitions and related party transactions requiring shareholder approval. In addition, a shareholder who is aware that it possesses the power to determine the outcome of a shareholder vote or to appoint or prevent the appointment of a director or executive officer in the company has a duty of fairness toward the company. There is limited case law available to assist us in understanding the nature of this duty or the implications of these provisions. These provisions may be interpreted to impose additional obligations and liabilities on holders of our ordinary shares that are not typically imposed on shareholders of U.S. corporations.
Our business could be negatively affected as a result of actions of activist shareholders and/or class action filings, which could impact the trading value of our securities.
In recent years, certain Israeli issuers listed on United States exchanges have been faced with governance- related demands from activist shareholders, unsolicited tender offers and proxy contests. Responding to these types of actions by activist shareholders could be costly and time-consuming, disrupting our operations and diverting the attention of management and our employees. Such activities could interfere with our ability to execute our strategic plan. In addition, a proxy contest for the election of directors at our annual meeting would require us to incur significant legal fees and proxy solicitation expenses and require significant time and attention by management and our Board of Directors. The perceived uncertainties as to our future direction also could affect the market price and volatility of our securities.
In recent years, we have also seen a significant rise in the filing of class actions in Israel against public companies, as well as derivative actions against companies, their executives and board members. While the vast majority of such claims are dismissed, companies are forced to increasingly invest resources, including monetary expenses and investment of management attention due to these claims. This could adversely affect the willingness of our executives and board members to make decisions which could have benefitted our business operations. Such legal actions could also be taken with respect to the validity or reasonableness of the decisions of our Board of Directors. In addition, the rise in the number and magnitude of litigation could result in a deterioration of the level of coverage of our D&O liability insurance.
General risk factors
We face cyber-security risks.
Our business operations rely upon secure information technology systems for data processing, storage and reporting. As a result, we maintain information security policies and procedures for managing our information technology systems. Despite security and controls design, implementation and updates, our information technology systems may be subject to cyber-attacks, including, network, system, application and data breaches. A number of companies around the world, including in our industry, have been the subject of cyber-security attacks in recent years. For example, one of our peers experienced a major cyber-attack on its IT systems in 2017, which impacted such company’s operations in its transport and logistics businesses and resulted in significant financial loss. In addition, in August 2020, a cruise operator was a victim to ransomware attack. On September 28, 2020, another competitor confirmed a ransomware attack that disabled its booking system, and on October 1, 2020, the IMO’s public website and intranet services were subject to a cyberattack. In December 2020, an Israeli insurance company fell victim to a highly publicized ransomware attack, resulting in the filing of civil actions against the company and significant damage to that company’s reputation. Other Israeli companies are facing cyber-attack campaigns, and it is believed the attackers may be from hostile countries. Cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common and more sophisticated, and may be perpetrated by computer hackers, cyber-terrorists or others engaged in corporate espionage.
Cyber-security attacks could include malicious software (malware), attempts to gain unauthorized access to data, social media hacks and leaks, ransomware attacks and other electronic security breaches of our information technology systems as well as the information technology systems of our customers and other service providers that could lead to disruptions in critical systems, unauthorized release, misappropriation, corruption or loss of data or confidential information, and breach of protected data belonging to third parties. In addition, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have reduced our staffing in our offices and increased our reliance on remote access of our employees. We have taken measures to enable us to face cyber-security threats, including backup and recovery and backup measures, as well as cyber security awareness trainings and an annual companywide cyber preparedness drill. However, there is no assurance that these measures will be successful in coping with cyber-security threats, as these develop rapidly, and we may be affected by and become unable to respond to such developments. A cyber-security breach, whether as a result of malicious, political, competitive or other motives, may result in operational disruptions, information misappropriation or breach of privacy laws, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and other similar regulations, which could result in reputational damage and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation.
We face risks relating to our information technology and communication system.
Our information technology and communication system supports all of our businesses processes throughout the supply chain, including our customer service and marketing teams, business intelligence analysts, logistics team and financial reporting functions. Our primary data center is in Europe with a back-up data center in Israel. While we have a disaster recovery plan pursuant to which we are able to immediately activate the back-up data center in the event of a failure at our primary data center, if our primary data center ceases to be available to us without sufficient advance notice, we would likely experience delays in our operating activities.
Additionally, our information systems and infrastructure could be physically damaged by events such as fires, terrorist attacks and unauthorized access to our servers and infrastructure, as well as the unauthorized entrance into our information systems. Furthermore, we communicate with our customers through an ecommerce platform. Our ecommerce platform was developed and is run by third-party service providers over which we have no management control. A potential failure of our computer systems or a failure of our third-party ecommerce platform providers to satisfy their contractual service level commitments to us may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation. Our efforts to modernize and digitize our operations and communications with our customers further increase our dependency on information technology systems, which exacerbates the risks we could face if these systems malfunction.
We are subject to data privacy laws, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and any failure by us to comply could result in proceedings or actions against us and subject us to significant fines, penalties, judgments and negative publicity.
We are subject to numerous data privacy laws, including Israeli privacy laws and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679), or the GDPR, which relates to the collection, use, retention, security, processing and transfer of personally identifiable information about our customers and employees in the countries where we operate. We have also been certified as compliant with ISO27001 in Israel (information security management standard) and ISO27701(extension to the information security management standard).
The EU data protection regime expands the scope of the EU data protection law to all companies processing data of EEA individuals, imposes a stringent data protection compliance regime, including administrative fines of up to the greater of 4% of worldwide turnover or €20 million (as well as the right to compensation for financial or non-financial damages claimed by any individuals), and includes new data subject rights such as the “portability” of personal data. Although we are generally a business that serves other businesses (B2B), we still process and obtain certain personal information relating to individuals, and any failure by us to comply with the GDPR or other data privacy laws where applicable could result in proceedings or actions against us, which could subject us to significant fines, penalties, judgments and negative publicity.
Labor shortages or disruptions could have an adverse effect on our business and reputation.
We employ, directly and indirectly, approximately 5,931 employees around the globe (including contract workers). We, our subsidiaries, and the independent agencies with which we have agreements could experience strikes, industrial unrest or work stoppages. Several our employees are members of unions. In recent years, we have experienced labor interruptions as a result of disagreements between management and unionized employees and have entered into collective bargaining agreements addressing certain of these concerns. If such disagreements arise and are not resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner, such labor conflicts could have a material adverse effect on our business and reputation. Disputes with our unionized employees may result in work stoppage, strikes and time-consuming litigation. Our collective bargaining agreements include termination procedures which affect our managerial flexibility with re-organization procedures and termination procedures. In addition, our collective bargaining agreements affect our financial liabilities towards employees, including because of pension liabilities or other compensation terms.
We incur increased costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management team, which has limited experience in managing and operating a company that is publicly traded in the U.S., will be required to devote substantial time to new compliance initiatives.
As a public company whose ordinary shares are listed in the United States, we incur accounting, legal and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company, including costs associated with our reporting requirements under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). We also incur costs associated with corporate governance requirements, including requirements under Section 404 and other provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes- Oxley Act, as well as rules implemented by the SEC and the NYSE, and provisions of Israeli corporate laws applicable to public companies. We expect that these rules and regulations will increase our legal and financial compliance costs, introduce new costs such as investor relations and stock exchange listing fees, and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. In addition, we expect that our senior management and other personnel will need to divert attention from operational and other business matters to devote substantial time to these public company requirements. Our current management team has limited experience managing and operating a company that is publicly traded in the US. Failure to comply or adequately comply with any laws, rules or regulations applicable to our business may result in fines or regulatory actions, which may adversely affect our business, results of operation or financial condition and could result in delays in achieving or maintaining an active and liquid trading market for our ordinary shares.
Changes in the laws and regulations affecting public companies could result in increased costs to us as we respond to such changes. These laws and regulations could make it more difficult or more costly for us to obtain certain types of insurance, including director and officer liability insurance, and we may be forced to accept reduced policy limits and coverage and/or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage, including increased deductibles. The impact of these requirements could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our Board of Directors, our board committees or as executive officers. We cannot predict or estimate the amount or timing of additional costs we may incur in order to comply with such requirements. Any of these effects could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks related to our ordinary shares
Our share price may be volatile, and you may lose all or part of your investment.
The market price of our ordinary shares could be highly volatile and may fluctuate substantially as a result of many factors, including:
|●||actual or anticipated variations in our or our competitors’ results of operations and financial condition;|
|●||variations in our financial performance from the expectations of market analysts;|
|●||announcements by us or our competitors of significant business developments, changes in service provider relationships, acquisitions or expansion plans;|
|●||our involvement in litigation;|
|●||our sale of ordinary shares or other securities in the future;|
|●||market conditions in our industry, which traditionally has been volatile;|
|●||changes in key personnel;|
|●||the trading volume of our ordinary shares;|
|●||changes in the estimation of the future size and growth rate of our markets; and|
|●||general economic and market conditions.|
In addition, the stock markets generally have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations.
Broad market and industry factors may materially harm the market price of our ordinary shares, regardless of our operating performance. In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against that company. If we were involved in any similar litigation, we could incur substantial costs and our management’s attention and resources could be diverted, which could affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or publish negative reports about our business, our share price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our ordinary shares depends, in part, upon the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our businesses. We do not have any control over analysts as to whether they will cover us, and if they do, whether such coverage will continue. If one or more of the analysts covering us cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which could cause the price or trading volume of our shares to decline. In addition, if one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our shares or change their opinion of our shares, the price for our shares will likely decline.
Future sales of our ordinary shares or the anticipation of future sales could reduce the market price of our ordinary shares.
If we or our existing shareholders sell a substantial number of our ordinary shares in the public market, the market price of our ordinary shares could decrease significantly. The perception in the public market that our shareholders might sell our ordinary shares could also depress the market price of our ordinary shares and could impair our future ability to obtain capital, especially through an offering of equity securities. Substantially all of our outstanding ordinary shares are eligible for sale in the public market, except that ordinary shares held by our affiliates are subject to restrictions on volume and manner of sale pursuant to Rule 144 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). We have also filed a registration statement on Form S-8 with the SEC, and intend to file an additional registration statements on Form S-8, covering all of the ordinary shares issuable under our share incentive plans and such shares are available for resale following the expiration of any restrictions on transfer. Further, substantially all of our pre-IPO shareholders are party to a Registration Rights Agreement. Pursuant to this agreement, at any time beginning 180 days following the date of the prospectus used in connection with our initial public offering, the shareholders party thereto are entitled to request that we register the resale of their ordinary shares under the Securities Act, subject to certain conditions. Certain of our shareholders have exercised their Registration Rights in a secondary offering of our ordinary shares which closed in June 2021. See “Item 7.B - Related party transactions — Registration rights” for additional information. In addition, a sale by us of additional ordinary shares or similar securities in order to raise capital might have a similar negative impact on the share price of our ordinary shares. A decline in the price of our ordinary shares might impede our ability to raise capital through the issuance of additional ordinary shares or other equity securities and may cause you to lose part or all of your investment in our ordinary shares.
Interests of our principal shareholders could adversely affect our other shareholders.
Our largest shareholder Kenon Holdings, Ltd., or Kenon, currently owns approximately 25.8% of our outstanding ordinary shares and voting power. As a result of its voting power, Kenon has and will continue to have the ability to exert influence over our affairs for the foreseeable future, including with respect to the election of directors, amendments to our articles of association and all matters requiring shareholder approval. In certain circumstances, Kenon’s interests as a principal shareholder may differ or even conflict with the interests of our other shareholders, and Kenon’s ability to exert influence over us may have the effect of causing, delaying, or preventing changes or transactions that our other shareholders may or may not deem to be in their best interests. In addition, we have entered into a number of transactions with related parties, which are connected to Kenon, as described in “Item 7.B - Related party transactions”. Although we have implemented procedures to ensure the terms of any related party transaction are at arm’s length, any alleged appearance of impropriety in connection with our entry into related party transactions could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business.
The State of Israel holds a Special State Share in us, which imposes certain restrictions on our operations and gives Israel veto power over transfers of certain assets and shares above certain thresholds, and may have an anti- takeover effect.
The State of Israel holds a Special State Share in us, which imposes certain limitations on our operating and managing activities and could negatively affect our business and results of our operations. These limitations include, among other things, transferability restrictions on our share capital, restrictions on our ability to enter into certain merger transactions or undergo certain reorganizations and restrictions on the composition of our Board of Directors and the nationality of our chief executive officer, among others.
Because the Special State Share restricts the ability of a shareholder to gain control of our Company, the existence of the Special State Share may have an anti-takeover effect and therefore depress the price of our ordinary shares or otherwise negatively affect our business and results of operations. In addition, the terms of the Special State Share dictate that we maintain a minimum fleet of 11 wholly owned seaworthy vessels.
Currently, as a result of waivers received from the State of Israel, we own fewer vessels than the minimum fleet requirement. However, if we acquire and own additional vessels in the future, these vessels would be subject to the minimum fleet requirements and conditions of the Special State Share, and if we would want to dispose of such vessels, we would need to obtain consent from the State of Israel. For further information on the Special State Share, see “Item 6.E - Share ownership — The Special State Share.”
As a foreign private issuer, we are permitted, and intend, to follow certain home country corporate governance practices instead of otherwise applicable NYSE requirements, which may result in less protection than is accorded to investors under rules applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.
As a foreign private issuer, in reliance on NYSE rules that permit a foreign private issuer to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country, we are permitted to follow certain Israeli corporate governance practices instead of those otherwise required under the corporate governance standards for U.S. domestic issuers. We intend to follow certain Israeli home country corporate governance practices rather than the requirements of the NYSE including, for example, to have a nominating committee or to obtain shareholder approval for certain issuances to related parties or the establishment or amendment of certain equity-based compensation plans. Following our home country governance practices as opposed to the requirements that would otherwise apply to a U.S. company listed on the NYSE may provide less protection than is accorded to investors in U.S. domestic issuers. See “Item 6.C - Board practices.”
As a foreign private issuer, we are not subject to the provisions of Regulation FD or U.S. proxy rules and are exempt from filing certain Exchange Act reports, which could result in our shares being less attractive to investors.
As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from a number of requirements under U.S. securities laws that apply to public companies that are not foreign private issuers. In particular, we are exempt from the rules and regulations under the Exchange Act related to the furnishing and content of proxy statements, and our officers, directors and principal shareholders are exempt from the reporting and short-swing profit recovery provisions contained in Section 16 of the Exchange Act. In addition, we are not required under the Exchange Act to file annual and current reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. domestic companies whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act and we are generally exempt from filing quarterly reports with the SEC under the Exchange Act. We are also exempt from the provisions of Regulation FD, which prohibits the selective disclosure of material nonpublic information to, among others, broker-dealers and holders of a company’s securities under circumstances in which it is reasonably foreseeable that the holder will trade in the company’s securities on the basis of the information. Even though we have voluntarily filed and intend to continue to voluntarily file current reports on Form 6-K that include quarterly financial statements, and we have adopted a procedure to voluntarily comply with Regulation FD, these exemptions and leniencies reduce the frequency and scope of information and protections to which you are entitled as an investor.
We are not required to comply with the proxy rules applicable to U.S. domestic companies, including the requirement to disclose the compensation of our Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and three other most highly compensated executive officers on an individual, rather than on an aggregate, basis. Nevertheless, regulations promulgated under the Israeli Companies Law 5759-1999 (the “Companies Law”) requires us to disclose in the notice convening an annual general meeting (unless previously disclosed in any report by us prepared pursuant to the requirements of NYSE or any other stock exchange on which our shares are registered for trade) the annual compensation of our five most highly compensated officers on an individual basis, rather than on an aggregate basis. This disclosure will not be as extensive as that required of a U.S. domestic issuer.
We would lose our foreign private issuer status if a majority of our shares became held by U.S. persons and either a majority of our directors or executive officers are U.S. citizens or residents or we fail to meet additional requirements necessary to avoid loss of foreign private issuer status. Although we have elected to comply with certain U.S. regulatory provisions, our loss of foreign private issuer status would make such provisions mandatory. The regulatory and compliance costs to us under U.S. securities laws as a U.S. domestic issuer may be significantly higher. If we are not a foreign private issuer, we will be required to file periodic reports and registration statements on U.S. domestic issuer forms with the SEC, which are more detailed and extensive than the forms available to a foreign private issuer. We would also be required to follow U.S. proxy disclosure requirements. We may also be required to modify certain of our policies to comply with good governance practices associated with U.S. domestic issuers. Such conversion and modifications will involve additional costs. In addition, we would lose our ability to rely upon exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements on U.S. stock exchanges that are available to foreign private issuers.
If we are unable to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in the future, investors may lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports and the market price of our ordinary shares could be negatively affected.
As a public company, we are required to maintain internal controls over financial reporting and to report any material weaknesses in such internal controls. We are required to furnish a report by management on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. If we identify material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, if we are unable to comply with the requirements of Section 404 in a timely manner or assert that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm is unable to express an opinion as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports and the market price of our ordinary shares could be negatively affected, and we could become subject to investigations by the stock exchange on which our securities are listed, the SEC or other regulatory authorities, which could require additional financial and management resources.
Our dividend policy is subject to change at the discretion of our Board of Directors and there is no assurance that our Board of Directors will declare dividends in accordance with this policy.
Our Board of Directors has adopted a dividend policy, which was amended in November 2021, to distribute a dividend to our shareholders on a quarterly basis at a rate of approximately 20% of the net income derived during such fiscal quarter with respect to the first three fiscal quarters of the year, while the cumulative annual dividend amount to be distributed by the Company (including the interim dividends paid during the first three fiscal quarters of the year) will total 30-50% of the annual net income. During 2021 the Company paid a special cash dividend of approximately $237 million, or $2.00 per ordinary share and a cash dividend of approximately $299 million, or $2.50 per ordinary share. On March 9, 2022 the Company's Board of Directors declared a cash dividend of approximately $2.04 billion, or $17.0 per ordinary share, resulting with a cumulative annual dividend amount of approximately 50% of 2021 net income, to be paid on April 4, 2022, to holders of the ordinary shares as of March 23, 2022.
Any dividends must be declared by our Board of Directors, which will take into account various factors including our profits, our investment plan, our financial position and additional factors it deems appropriate. While we initially intend to distribute 30 - 50% of our annual net income, the actual payout ratio could be anywhere from 0% to 50% of our net income, and may fluctuate depending on our cash flow needs and such other factors. There can be no assurance that dividends will be declared in accordance with our Board’s policy or at all, and our Board of Directors may decide, in its absolute discretion, at any time and for any reason, not to pay dividends, to reduce the amount of dividends paid, to pay dividends on an ad-hoc basis or to take other actions, which could include share buybacks, instead of or in addition to the declaration of dividends. Accordingly, we expect that the amount of any cash dividends we distribute will vary between distributions as a result of such factors. We have not adopted a separate written dividend policy to reflect our Board’s policy.
Our ability to pay dividends is limited by Israeli law, which permits the distribution of dividends only out of distributable profits and only if there is no reasonable concern that such distribution will prevent us from meeting our existing and future obligations when they become due. See “Item 8.A - Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information - Dividend policy.”
ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
A.History and development of the company
Founded in Israel in 1945, we purchased our first ship in 1947. In the 1950s and 1960s, we expanded our fleet and global shipping lines. In 1969, approximately 50% our company was acquired by Israel Corporation Ltd., which moved us away from government ownership. In 1972, we launched our first cargo shipping service. We continued to expand globally, including establishing a presence in China, and renovated our fleet in the late 1980s. In 2004, we were fully privatized. From 2010 through present, we have focused on changing our strategy and adopting a comprehensive transformation strategy designed to improve our long-term commercial and operational processes by reducing operational expenses and increasing profitability.
The shipping industry experienced significant instability and volatility from 2008 into 2012, primarily as a result of persistently high fuel prices, slow growth in demand and an over-supply of shipping services. Against this backdrop, in 2013, we initiated a dialogue with our financial creditors and other parties and reached a consensual restructuring agreement in July 2014. Our strategic operational cooperation with the 2M Alliance, which was announced in July 2018 and amended in February 2022, allows us to provide faster, more efficient service and a wider geographic coverage in our most critical trade lanes, enabling us to provide our customers with improved product portfolio, larger port coverage and better transit time, while generating cost efficiencies. In 2020, we celebrated our 75th anniversary.
Our ordinary shares have been listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "ZIM" since January 28, 2021. During 2021 we have made a full early repayment of our Series 1 and Series 2 notes (Tranches C and D), in a total amount of US$434 million, reflecting a full settlement of the outstanding indebtedness related to such notes and resulting in the removal of the related provisions and limitations. In addition, in September and December 2021 we have made dividend payments of approximately US$536 million in the aggregate to our shareholders.
Our legal and commercial name is ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. Our principal place of business is located at 9 Andrei Sakharov Street, P.O. Box 15067, Matam, Haifa, 3190500. Our telephone number of our principal place of business is +972 4 8652111. Our website is www.zim.com. We have included our website address in this Annual Report solely for informational purposes. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website does not constitute a part of this Annual Report and is not incorporated by reference herein. Our agent for service of process is ZIM American Integrated Shipping Services Company, LLC, whose address is 5801 Lake Wright Drive, Norfolk, Virginia 23502, United States, and whose telephone number is 757-228-1300.
We are a global container liner shipping company with leadership positions in niche markets where we believe we have distinct competitive advantages that allow us to maximize our market position and profitability. Founded in Israel in 1945, we are one of the oldest shipping liners, with over 75 years of experience, providing customers with innovative seaborne transportation and logistics services with a reputation for industry leading transit times, schedule reliability and service excellence.
Our main focus is to provide best-in-class service for our customers while maximizing our profitability. We have positioned ourselves to achieve industry-leading margins and profitability through our focused strategy, commercial excellence, agile approach and flexibility in responding to changing market conditions and enhanced digital tools. As part of our “Innovative Shipping” vision, we rely on careful analysis of data, including business and artificial intelligence, to better understand the needs of our customers and digitize our products accordingly, without compromising our personal touch. We operate and innovate as a truly customer-centric company, constantly striving to provide a best-in-class product offering.
As of December 31, 2021, we operated a fleet of 118 vessels and chartered-in 96.9% of our TEU capacity and 96.6% of the vessels in our fleet. For comparison, according to Alphaliner, our competitors chartered-in on average approximately 50% of their fleets. In effort to respond to increased demand for container shipping services globally, between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, we chartered-in additional 29 vessels (net, not including vessels pending delivery). We deployed these vessels in our newly launched as well as our existing service lines across the globe. In addition, during 2021 we have chartered eight car carrier vessels and increased the volume and frequency of our car carrier services from the Far East to Israel and additional countries in Europe and the Mediterranean. In February and July 2021, we and Seaspan Corporation entered into two strategic agreements for the long-term charter of ten 15,000 TEU and fifteen 7,000 TEU LNG (liquified natural gas dual-fuel) container vessels to serve ZIM’s Asia-US East Coast Trade and other global-niche trades, with the vessels intended to be delivered to us between February 2023 and throughout 2024. We have also entered into a new eight-year charter agreement with a shipping company that is an affiliate to our largest shareholder, Kenon Holdings Ltd., according to which we will charter three 7,000 TEU LNG dual fuel container vessels, expected to be delivered during the first and second quarters of 2024. Furthermore, in February 2022 we announced a new chartering agreement with Navios Maritime Partners L.P. for a total of 13 vessels (including five of which are secondhand), ranging from 3,500 to 5,300 TEUs. See - “Our vessel fleet – Strategic Chartering Agreements”. During the second half of 2021 we have completed the purchase transaction of eight secondhand vessels, ranging from 1,100 to 4,250 TEU each, in several separate transactions, for an aggregated
amount of US$ 355 million. As of March 1, 2022, five of these vessels were delivered to us out of the total eight purchased. See– “Our Vessel Fleet”.
We operate across five geographic trade zones that provide us with a global footprint. These trade zones include (for the year ended December 31, 2021): (1) Transpacific (39% of carried TEUs), (2) Atlantic (18%), (3) Cross Suez (10%), (4) Intra-Asia (27%) and (5) Latin America (6%). Within these trade zones, we strive to increase and sustain profitability by selectively competing in niche trade lanes where we believe that the market is underserved and that we have a competitive advantage versus our peers. These include both trade lanes where we have an in-depth knowledge, long-established presence and outsized market position as well as new trade lanes into which we are often driven by demand from our customers as they are not serviced in-full by our competitors. Several examples of niche trade lanes within our geographic trade zones include: (1) US East Coast & Gulf to Mediterranean lane (Atlantic trade zone where we maintain a 10% market share, (2) East Mediterranean & Black Sea to Far East lane (Cross Suez trade zone), 7% market share and (3) Far East to US East Coast (Pacific trade zone), 9.5% market share, in each case according to the Port Import/Export Reporting Service (PIERS) and Container Trade Statistics (CTS).
During 2021we expanded our services to include, among other: (1) the launch of a new express service line connecting South East Asia to Los Angeles (ZX2); (2) a new e-commerce line connecting Taiwan and Central China to USWC (ZX3); (4) a new joint Asia-USEC service line with 2M connecting South China, Vietnam and the USEC (ZSE); (5) extension of our Africa lines with a new China-East Africa service (CEA) in cooperation with Hapag Lloyd and ONE; (5) a new service connecting Turkey to USEC and Gulf (ZCT) in cooperation with Hapag Lloyd,; (6) a new service connecting N. Europe and USEC (ZNE, currently suspended until further notice); (7) A new service connecting Israel and Turkey to the Indian subcontinent (ZMI); (8) a new independent pendulum service on the Asia-Mediterranean and Pacific North West (ZMP), planned to be launched in April 2022, and; (9) a new speedy e-commerce service from China and South East Asia to the US East Coast (ZXB).
As of December 31, 2021, we operated a global network of 70 weekly lines, calling at 304 ports in more than 90 countries. Our complex and sophisticated network of lines allows us to be agile as we identify markets in which to compete. Within our global network we offer value-added and tailored services, including operating several logistics subsidiaries to provide complimentary services to our customers. We continue to develop our network of additional logistics companies in order to provide comprehensive services to our customers. These subsidiaries, which we operate, among other, in China, Vietnam, Canada, Brazil, India and Singapore, are asset-light and provide services such as land transportation, custom brokerage, LCL, project cargo and air freight services. Out of ZIM’s total volume in the twelve months ended December 31, 2021, approximately 20% of our TEUs carried utilized additional elements of land transportation.
As of December 31, 2021, we chartered-in most of our capacity; in addition, 80.7% of our chartered-in vessels are under leases having a remaining charter duration of more than one year (or 81.6% in terms of TEU capacity). We continue to adjust our operations in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our fleet, mainly in terms of the size of our vessels, enables us to optimize vessel deployment to match the needs of both mainlane and regional routes and to ensure high utilization of our vessels and specific trade advantages. The majority of our operated vessels have capacities that range from less than 1,000 TEUs to almost 10,000 TEUs, though in February 2021 we entered into a long-term charter of ten 15,000 TEU liquified natural gas (LNG dual-fuel) container vessels pursuant to our strategic agreement with Seaspan (See “–Our vessel fleet – Strategic chartering Agreements”). Furthermore, we operate a modern and specialized container fleet, which we significantly increased during 2021 to a capacity of nearly 1 million TEUs, which acts as an additional value-added service offering, attracting higher yields than standard cargos.
Our network is significantly enhanced by cooperation agreements with other leading container liner companies and alliances, allowing us to maintain a high degree of agility while optimizing fleet utilization by sharing capacity, expanding our service offering and benefiting from cost savings. Such cooperation agreements include vessel sharing agreements (VSAs), slot purchase and swaps. Our strategic collaboration with the 2M Alliance, comprised of the two largest global carriers (Maersk and MSC), which was launched in September 2018, provides faster, wider and more efficient service in 4 trade lanes, 12 services and approximately 23,500 TEUs. Effective as of April 2022, the cooperation agreement with the 2M Alliance will be updated to cover the Asia- US East Coast and the Asia- US Gulf Coast with 2 trade lanes, 8 services and approximately 15,400 weekly TEUs. In addition to our collaboration with the 2M Alliance, we also maintain a number of partnerships with various global and regional liners in different trades. For example, in the Intra-Asia trade, we partner with both global and regional liners in order to extend our services in the region.
We have a highly diverse and global customer base with approximately 36,000 customers (which considers each of our customer entities separately, also when it is a subsidiary or branch of another customer) using our services. In 2021, our 10 largest customers represented approximately 17% of our freight revenues and our 50 largest customers represented approximately 32% of our freight revenues. One of the key principles of our business is our customer-centric approach and we strive to offer value-added services designed to attract and retain customers. Our strong reputation, high-quality service offering and schedule reliability has generated a loyal customer base, with all of our 10 top customers in 2021 having a relationship with the Company lasting longer than 10 years.
We have focused on developing industry-leading and best in class technologies to support our customers, including improvements in our digital capabilities to enhance both commercial and operational excellence. We use our technology and innovation to power new services, improve our best-in-class customer experience and enhance our productivity and portfolio management. Several recent examples of our digital services include: (i) ZIMonitor, which is an advanced tracking device that provides 24/7 online alerts to support high value cargo, (ii) eZIM, our easy-to-use online booking platform; (iii) eZQuote, a digital tool that allows customers the ability to receive instant quotes with a fixed price and guaranteed terms; (iv) Draft B/L, an online tool that allows export users to view, edit and approve their bill of lading online without speaking with a representative; and (v) ZIMGuard, an artificial intelligence-based internal tool designed to detect possible misdeclarations of dangerous cargo in real-time. Furthermore, we have formed a number of partnerships and collaborations with third party start-ups for the development of multiple engines of growth which are adjacent to our traditional container shipping business. These technological partnerships and initiatives include: (i) “ZKCyberStar”, a collaboration with Konfidas, a leading Israeli cyber-security consulting company, to provide bespoke cyber-security solutions, guidance, methodology and training to the maritime industry; (ii) “ZMark”, a new initiative in cooperation with Sodyo, an early stage scanning technology company, aimed to provide visual identification solutions for the entire logistics sector (inventory management, asset tracking, fleet management, shipping, access control, etc.). This technology is extremely fast and is suitable for multiple types of media; (iii) Our investment in and partnership with WAVE, a leading electronic B/L based on blockchain technology, to replace and secure original documents of title; (iv) Our investment in and partnership with Ladingo, a one-stop-shop for Cross Border Shipments with all-in-one, easy to use software and fully integrated service, making it easier, more affordable and risk free to import and export LCLs, FCLs or any large and bulky shipments; (v) Ship4wd, a digital freight forwarding platform offering an online, simple and reliable self-service end to end shipping solution, that is initially targeting US & Canadian small and medium-sized businesses importing from China, Vietnam and Israel.
Achieving industry leading profitability margins through both effective cost management initiatives as well as top-line improvement strategies is one of the primary focuses of our business. Over the past three years we have taken initiatives to reduce and avoid costs across our operating activities through various cost- control measures and equipment cost reduction (including, but not limited to, equipment interchanges such as swapping containers in surplus locations, street turns to reduce trucking of empty containers and domestic repositioning from inland ports). Our digital investment in our information technology systems has allowed us to develop a highly sophisticated allocation management tool that gives us the ability to manage our vessel and cargo mix to prioritize higher yielding bookings. The capacity management tool as well as our agility in terms of vessel deployment enable us to focus on the most profitable routes with our customers. The net impact has been demonstrated through our industry-leading Adjusted EBIT margins for the last 28 consecutive quarters.
In addition to effective cost management, we would not have been able to achieve our financial results without our unique organizational culture. Our vision and values, “Z-Factor,” is fully aligned with and supports our strategy and long-term goals. Our vision of “Innovative shipping dedicated to you!” has driven our focus on innovation and digitalization and has led us to become a truly customer-centric company. Our can-do approach and results-driven attitude support our passion for commercial excellence and drives our focus on optimizing our cargo and customer mix. Through our core value of sustainability, we aim to uphold and advance a set of principles regarding Ethical, Social and Environmental concerns. Our goal is to work resolutely to eliminate corruption risks, promote diversity among our teams and continuously reduce the environmental impact of our operations, both at sea and onshore. Our organizational culture enables us to operate at the highest level, while also treating our oceans and communities with care and responsibility.
We are headquartered in Haifa, Israel. As of December 31, 2021, we had approximately 5,931, full-time employees worldwide (including contract workers). In 2021 and 2020, we carried 3.48 million and 2.84 million TEUs, respectively, for our customers worldwide. During the same periods, our revenues were $10,729 million and $3,992 million, our net income was $4,649 million and $524 million and our Adjusted EBITDA was $6,597 million and $1,036 million, respectively.
With a global footprint of more than 200 offices and agencies in approximately 100 countries, we offer both door-to-door and port-to-port transportation services for all types of customers, including end-users, consolidators and freight forwarders.
Comprehensive logistics solutions
We offer our customers comprehensive logistics solutions to fit their transportation needs from door-to- door. Our wide range of transportation services, handled by our highly trained sea and shore crews and supported with personalized customer service and our unified information technology platform, allows us to offer our customers higher quality and tailored services and solutions at any time around the world. During 2021, similarly to our peers, we have experienced capacity shortages and long dwell time throughout the logistic chain.
Our customers place orders either online or with a customer service member in one of our regional agencies located around the world. We issue the bill of lading detailing the terms of the shipment and, in the case of a typical door-to-door order, we deliver an empty container to the shipper’s designated address. Once the shipper has filled the container with cargo, it is transported to a container port, where it is loaded onto our cargo ship. We have experience in shipping various types of cargo, such as over-sized cargo, dangerous and hazardous cargo, cars, trucks and vehicles and reefer shipments. The container is shipped either directly to the destination port or via one of our scheduled ports of call, where it is transferred, or “transshipped,” to another ship. When the container arrives at the final destination port, it is off-loaded from the ship and delivered to the recipient or a designated agent via land transportation. We partner with regional and local land transportation operators to provide a range of inland transportation services via rail, truck and river barge, often combining multiple modes of transportation to ensure efficient and cost-effective operation with minimum transit time. Out of ZIM’s total volume in the twelve months ended December 31, 2021, approximately 20% of our TEUs carried utilized additional elements of land transportation. We continuously strive to find logistic solutions for land transportation service offering under the current market conditions.
We also offer ZIMonitor, our premium reefer cargo tracking service. ZIMonitor is an advanced real- time monitoring device that, among other things, allows our customers to monitor their shipments in real time. See “— Types of cargo — Specialized cargo” below. We have also partnered with Alibaba through our logistics subsidiary in China to expand our offerings to small- and medium-sized enterprises who conduct their business through Alibaba’s platform. In June 2021 we have extended our commercial cooperation with Alibaba for two more years and until 2023.
We believe that our global-niche strategy, as well as our focus on customer-centric services, place us in a good position to attract new customers through our reliable and competitive services.
Our services and geographic trade zones
As of December 31, 2021, we operated a global network of 70 weekly lines, calling at 304 ports in more than 90 countries. Our shipping lines are linked through hubs that strategically connect main lines and feeder lines, which provide regional transport services, creating a vast network with connections to and from smaller ports within the vicinity of main lines. We have achieved leadership positions in specific markets by focusing on trades where we have distinct competitive advantages and can attain and grow our overall profitability.
Our shipping lines are organized into geographic trade zones by trade. The table below illustrates our primary geographic trade zones and the primary trades they cover, as well as the percentage of our total TEUs carried by geographic trade zone for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019:
Year ended December 31,
Geographic trade zone (percentage of total TEUs carried for the period)
Pacific geographic trade zone
The Pacific geographic trade zone serves the Transpacific trade, which covers trade between Asia, including China, Korea, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Caribbean, Central America, the Gulf of Mexico and the east coast and west coast of the United States and Canada. Our services within this geographic trade zone also connect to Intra-Asia and Intra-America regional feeder lines, which provide onward connections to additional ports.
Pacific Northwest service. Based on information from Piers, Port of Vancouver and Prince Rupert Port Authority, approximately 50% of all goods shipped to the United States are transported via ports located in the west coast of the United States and Canada. These include local discharge as well as delivery by train or trucks to their final destinations, mainly to the Midwestern United States and to the central and eastern parts of Canada. We hold a position within the PNW, mostly via two Canadian gateways, the Vancouver and Prince Rupert ports, and also the Seattle port, which enable us to serve the very large Canadian and U.S. Midwest markets quickly and efficiently, while also avoiding the highly congested ports of Long Beach and Oakland and using the similarly congested Los Angeles port only for our ZEX, ZX2 and ZX3 services. Our strategic relationships in these markets with Canadian National Railway Company (“CN”), a rail operator, and with the 2M Alliance have allowed us to obtain competitive rates and provide consistent, high-quality service to our customers. In February 2022 we announced our intention to launch an independent service line to the Pacific Northwest trade, replacing the current cooperation commencing from April 2022.
Pacific Southwest Coast service - In response to the growing trend in eCommerce, we launched during 2020 and 2021, three eCommerce Xpress high-speed services, focusing on e-Commerce between South China and Los Angeles (ZEX, ZX2 and ZX3 lines). As a result of current global market conditions due to COVID-19, we have been experiencing heavy congestion in USWC ports throughout 2021, causing disruption to these services’ schedules. For additional information on measures declared by the port of Los Angeles and the port of Long Beach, see “Item 3.D – Risk Factors – Access to ports could be limited or unavailable including due to congestion in terminals and inland supply chains, and we may incur additional costs as a result thereof”.
Asia-U.S. All-Water service. With respect to the Asia-U.S. east coast trade, “all-water” refers to trade between Asia and the U.S. east coast and Gulf Coast using marine transportation only, via the Suez or Panama Canal. Within our cooperation with the 2M, we operate across eight services: six to USEC and two to the USGC. In January and February 2022, we announced our intention to operate the joint services with the 2M Alliance based on a slot exchange and vessel sharing agreement. Accordingly, as of April 2022, ZIM will solely operate two out of the six joint Asia to USEC services (ZCP & ZSE) as well as three additional vessels on one of two joint Asia to USGC services (ZGX).
As of December 31, 2021, we offered 13 services in the Pacific geographic trade zone, which had an effective weekly capacity of 24,217 TEUs and covered all major international shipping ports in the Transpacific trade. Our services in the Pacific geographic trade zone accounted for 54% of our freight revenues from containerized cargo for the year ended December 31, 2021.
Cross-Suez geographic trade zone
The Cross-Suez geographic trade zone serves the Asia-Europe trade, which covers trade between Asia and Europe (including the Indian sub-continent) through the Suez Canal, primarily focusing on the Asia- Black Sea/East Mediterranean Sea sub-trade, which is one of our key strategic zones. In previous years this trade was characterized by intense competition, and we have undertaken several initiatives to help us remain competitive within it. During 2021, cargo demand in this trade exceeded the available supply.
Our cooperation with the 2M Alliance which began in March 2019 is a slot charter agreement on two services from Asia to the East Mediterranean and is expected to terminate effective as of April 2022. In February 2022, we have announced the launch of an independent service line the Asia-Mediterranean trade replacing the current cooperation. In addition, we terminated our slot purchase from MSC which began in October 2018 on two lines in India-East Mediterranean trade and replaced this cooperation with an independent service line on this trade in December 2021.
As of December 31, 2021, we offered five services in the Cross-Suez geographic trade zone, which had an effective weekly capacity of 7,888 TEUs and covered all major international shipping ports in the East Mediterranean, the Black Sea, China, East and Southeast Asia and India. The Cross-Suez geographic trade zone accounted for 13% of our freight revenues from containerized cargo for the year ended December 31, 2021.
Atlantic-Europe geographic trade zone
The Atlantic-Europe geographic trade zone serves the Atlantic trade, which covers trade between North America and the Mediterranean, along with Intra-Europe/Mediterranean trade. Our services within this geographic trade zone also connect to Intra-Mediterranean and Intra-America regional feeder lines which provide onward connections to additional ports. Since 2014, we have had a cooperation agreement with Hapag-Lloyd and other companies in our Atlantic services. In addition, we have terminated our cooperation agreements with MSC in the Intra-Europe/Mediterranean trade and intend to replace this cooperation with an extension to North Europe on our recently launched ISC-Mediterranean independent service. We also have a cooperation agreement with COSCO in the Intra-Mediterranean trade.
As of December 31, 2021, we offered 13 services within this geographic trade zone, with an effective weekly capacity of 10,232 TEUs, covering major international shipping ports in the East and West Mediterranean, the Black Sea, Northern Europe, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the east and west coasts of North America. The Atlantic-Europe geographic trade zone accounted for 10% of our freight revenues from containerized cargo for the year ended December 31, 2021.
Intra-Asia geographic trade zone
The Intra-Asia and Asia-Africa geographic trade zone serves the Intra-Asia trade, which covers trades within regional ports in Asia, including ISC (Indian sub-continent), Africa and Australia. The Intra-Asia geographic trade zone accounted for 18% of our freight revenues from containerized cargo for the year ended December 31, 2021. Our services within this geographic trade zone feed into the global lines of the Pacific and Cross-Suez trades. This geographic trade zone is characterized by extensive structural changes that we have made to respond to changes in trade and market conditions.
The Intra-Asia market is highly fragmented with many active carriers, all with relatively small market shares. Local shipping companies have a significant presence within this trade, which is primarily serviced by relatively small vessels. However, larger vessels that operate in the intercontinental trade also serve this trade and call at ports within the region. We have cooperation agreements with several other shipping companies within this trade.
According to Container Trades Statistics, demand in this trade has been increasing for the last several years and is expected to continue to grow in the near-term. Such demand is due, among other things, to the relatively low cost of labor in the area and its proximity to developing economies with high growth rates, which incentivizes the manufacturing of finished products for export and trades in unfinished products passing between countries before their final passage to other trades via long-distance trade.
As of December 31, 2021, we offered 29 services within this geographic trade zone with an effective weekly capacity of 17,482 TEUs. Our services within this geographic trade zone cover major regional ports, including those in China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and other ports in Southeast Asia, India, Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia, and connect to shipping lines within our Cross-Suez and Pacific geographic trade zones.
Latin America geographic trade zone
The Latin America geographic trade zone consists of the Intra-America trade, which covers trade within regional ports in the Americas, as well as trade between the South American east coast and Asia and trade between the South American east coast and West Mediterranean. The regional services within this geographic trade zone are linked to our Pacific and Atlantic-Europe geographic trade zones. We cooperate with other carriers within the regional services and, in the Asia-East Coast South America and Mediterranean- East Coast South America sub-trades, mostly by slots purchase.
As of December 31, 2021, we offered ten services within this geographic trade zone as well as a complementary feeder network with an effective weekly capacity of 3,495 TEUs and operated between major regional ports, including ports in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, China, U.S. Gulf Coast, U.S. east coast and the West Mediterranean, and connect to our Pacific and Atlantic- Europe services. The Latin America geographic trade zone accounted for 5% of our freight revenues from containerized cargo for the year ended December 31, 2021.
Types of cargo
The following table sets forth details of the types of cargo we shipped during the twelve months ended December 31, 2021 as well as the related quantities and volume of containers (owned and leased).
Type of Container
Type of Cargo
Dry van containers
Most general cargo, including commodities in bundles, cartons, boxes, loose cargo, bulk cargo and furniture
Temperature controlled cargo, including pharmaceuticals, electronics and perishable cargo
Other specialized containers
Heavy cargo and goods of excess height and/or width, such as machinery, vehicles and building
We offer specialized shipping solutions through a dedicated team of supply chain experts that designs tailor-made solutions for our customers’ specific transportation needs, issues approvals and documentation, arranges for insurance and provides other logistics services for all kinds of specialized cargo, including:
|●||Out-of-gauge cargo. Cargo that is over-weight, over-height, over-length and/or over-width can present many challenges and issues relating to proper stowage, securing and handling. We maintain our containers to the highest standards and offer premium third-party services relating to these particular challenges.|
|●||Dangerous and hazardous, cargo. We specialize in carrying Dangerous and hazardous shipments safely in accordance with all applicable local and international rules and regulations. We ship a wide array of such cargos, and we employ dedicated teams of specialists in 5 offices around the globe who are specially trained to guide our customers through every stage of the supply chain challenges. We have also developed and implemented "ZIMGuard", an innovative artificial intelligence-based, screening software designed to detect and identify incidents of misdeclared hazardous cargo before loading to vessel.|
|●||Reefer cargo. Reefer cargo includes perishable goods, pharmaceuticals and electronics. Our reefer specialists and merchant marine officers ensure the safe transport of reefer cargo with precise tracking and continuous monitoring throughout the cold chain. During 2021 the portion of our reefer cargo carried out of our total carried TEU has grown by 11% compared to 2020, demonstrating our strategy to focus on reefers as one of our growth engines. In addition, as we strive to have the youngest reefer fleet in the industry, we have also invested in new custom-made reefer containers already equipped with our ZIMonitor capabilities, as well as in controlled atmosphere units which are designed to ship fresh produce cargo.|
At the end of 2015, we launched ZIMonitor, our premium reefer cargo tracking service. ZIMonitor is a device attached to the engine of the reefer, and allows customers to track, monitor and remotely control sensitive, high-value cargo, such as pharmaceuticals, food and delicate electronics. The device monitors, among other things, GPS location, temperature, humidity and unnecessary container door opening. Customers can opt to receive alerts regarding their shipment via text message or email. ZIMonitor is designed to comply with the good distribution practice guidelines (GDP), which are applicable to the pharmaceutical industry, and to provide ongoing data flow, alerts in order to prevent cargo damage and automatic reports. Customers are also able to view their cargo status online on our designated MyZim application. In addition, we employ a 24/7 dedicated response team to promptly respond to hundreds of alerts daily.
Transportation of Vehicles
In addition to containerized cargo, we also transport vehicles (such as cars, buses and trucks) via dedicated car carrier vessels westbound from Asia, and primarily from China, Japan, South Korea and India. During 2021 we have chartered 8 car carrier vessels and expanded the volume and our range of services to include additional calls to ports in Europe and the Mediterranean.
Our vessel fleet
As of December 31, 2021, our fleet included 118 vessels (110 container vessels and 8 vehicle transport vessels), of which four vessels were owned by us and 114 vessels are chartered-in (including 106 vessels accounted as right-of-use assets under the lease accounting guidance of IFRS 16 and 4 vessels accounted under sale and leaseback refinancing agreements). As of December 31, 2021, our operating fleet (including both owned and chartered vessels) had a capacity of 426,725 TEUs. The average size of our vessels is approximately 3,867 TEUs, compared to an industry average of 4,528 TEUs.
During the second half of 2021 we have completed the purchase transaction of eights secondhand vessels, ranging from 1,100 to 4,250 TEUs each, in several separate transactions, for an aggregated amount of US$ 355 million. During the second half of 2021, we recognized a cost of US$102 million in respect of three delivered vessels with the remaining vessels intended to be delivered until April 2022. As of March 1, 2022, we 5 of these vessels were delivered to us out of the total eight purchased. and we may purchase additional secondhanded vessels if we evaluate such purchase is more suited to our needs than other available alternatives.
We charter-in vessels under charter party agreements for varying periods. With the exception of certain vessels for which charter rates were set in connection with a restructuring arrangement we undertook in 2014, our charter rates are fixed at the time of entry into the charter party agreement and depend upon market conditions existing at that time. As of December 31, 2021, all of our chartered vessels are under a “time charter,” which consists of chartering-in the vessel capacity for a given period of time against a daily charter fee, with 110 vessels chartered while the crewing and technical operation of the vessel is handled by its owner, including 11 vessels chartered-in under a time charter from related parties, and four vessels chartered-in under a “bareboat charter,” which consists of chartering a vessel for a given period of time against a charter fee, with the operation of the vessel being handled by us. Subject to any restrictions in the applicable arrangement, we determine the type and quantity of cargo to be carried as well as the ports of loading and discharging.
Our vessels operate worldwide within the trading limits imposed by our insurance terms. As of December 31, 2021, the remaining average duration of our charter party agreements was approximately 26.5 months.
Our fleet is comprised of vessels of various sizes, ranging from less than 1,000 TEUs to 10,000 TEUs, which allows for flexible deployment in terms of port access and is optimally suited for deployment in the sub-trades in which we operate. In effort to respond to increased demand for container shipping services globally, between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, we chartered-in additional 29 vessels (net, not including vessels pending delivery). We deployed these vessels in both our newly launched and existing services across the globe. In addition, during 2021 we have chartered 8 car carrier vessels and have expanded our car carrier services from the Far East to Israel and additional countries in Europe and the Mediterranean. As of March 1, 2022, our fleet included 125 vessels (117 container vessels and 8 vehicle transport vessels), of which 6 vessels are owned by us and 119 vessels are chartered-in (including four vessels accounted under sale and leaseback refinancing agreements) and had a capacity of 449,629 TEUs.
Further, as of March 1, 2022, approximately 93 of our chartered-in vessels are under long-term leases with a remaining charter duration of more than one year, as we continue to actively manage our asset mix.
The following table provides summary information, as of December 31, 2021, about our fleet:
Vessels owned by us
Vessels chartered from parties related to us
Periods up to 1 year (from December 31, 2021)
Periods between 1 to 5 years (from December 31, 2021)
Periods over 5 years (from December 31, 2021)
Vessels chartered from third parties(2)
Periods up to 1 year (from December 31, 2021)
Periods between 1 to 5 years (from December 31, 2021)
Periods over 5 years (from December 31, 2021)
|(1)||Includes 106 vessels accounted as right-of-use assets under the accounting guidance of IFRS 16.|
|(2)||Includes 96 vessels accounted as right-of-use assets under the accounting guidance of IFRS 16 and 4 vessels accounted under sale and leaseback refinancing agreements.|
|(3)||Between January 1, 2022, and March 1, 2022, we took possession of two additional purchased vessels (net, not including vessels pending delivery). For additional strategic charter agreements for vessels pending delivery, see- “Strategic Chartering Agreements”.|
|(4)||Under our time charters, the vessel owner is responsible for operational costs and technical management of the vessel, such as crew, maintenance and repairs including periodic drydocking, cleaning and painting and maintenance work required by regulations, and certain insurance costs. Transport expenses such as bunker and port canal costs are borne by us. For some of the vessels that we own and for our vessels we charter under “bareboat” terms, we provide our own operational and technical management services. Our operational management services include the chartering-in, sale and purchase of vessels and accounting services, while our technical management services include, among others, selecting, engaging, and training competent personnel to supervise the maintenance and general efficiency of our vessels; arranging and supervising the maintenance, drydockings, repairs, alterations and upkeep of our vessels in accordance with the standards developed by us, the requirements and recommendations of each vessel’s classification society, and relevant international regulations and maintaining necessary certifications and ensuring that our vessels comply with the law of their flag state.|
Strategic Chartering Agreements
Long term charter agreement for LNG-Fueled Vessels from Seaspan Corporation
In February 2021 we and Seaspan Corporation entered into a strategic agreement for the long-term charter of ten 15,000 TEU liquified natural gas (LNG dual-fuel) container vessels, intended to be delivered between February 2023 and January 2024. Pursuant to the agreement, we will charter the vessels for a period of 12 years and have secured an option to later elect a charter period of 15 years to be applied to all chartered vessels. Our total cost during the term of the agreement will depend on the charter period and the initial payment we select to pay. We were further granted by Seaspan a right of first refusal to purchase the chartered vessels should Seaspan choose to sell them during the charter period, and an option to purchase the vessels at the end of the charter term. We intend to deploy these vessels on our Asia-US East Coast Trade as an enhancement to our service on this strategic trade.
In addition, in July 2021 we announced a second strategic agreement with Seaspan for the long-term charter with monetary value in excess of $1.5 billion, of ten 7,000 TEU LNG dual fuel container vessels with an option for additional five vessels, to serve across ZIM’s various global niche trades, with vessels expected to be delivered during the fourth quarter of 2023 and throughout 2024In September 2021 we announced the exercise of an option granted to us under this agreement to long term charter five additional 7,000 TEU LNG vessels, to be delivered during the third and fourth quarters of 2024, with this option valued in excess of $750 million. Following the exercise of this option, the total vessels to be chartered under this second strategic agreement is fifteen.
We expect to incur, in annualized charter hire costs per vessel, approximately US$17 million in respect of the abovementioned 15,000 TEU vessels, and approximately US$13 million in respect of the abovementioned 7,000 TEU vessels, over the term of the agreements, depending on the charter period elected.
Long term charter agreement for LNG-Fueled vessels from a shipping company affiliated with Kenon Holdings Ltd.
In January 2022 we entered into a new eight-year charter agreement with a shipping company that is affiliated with Kenon Holdings Ltd., our largest shareholder, according to which we will charter three 7,000 TEU LNG dual-fuel container vessels to be deployed in our global niche trades for a total consideration of approximately $400 million. The vessels will be constructed at Korean-based shipyard, Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries and are scheduled to be delivered during the first and second quarters of 2024.
Charter agreement with Navios Maritime Holdings Inc.
In February 2022 we and Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. entered into a charter agreement for the charter of thirteen container vessels comprising of five secondhand vessels and eight newbuild vessels of total charter hire consideration of approximately $870 million. The five secondhanded vessels range from 3,500-4,360 TEUs and are expected to be delivered in the first and second quarter of 2022 and deployed across ZIM’s global network. The eight 5,300 TEU wide beam newbuilds are scheduled to be delivered during the third quarter of 2023 through the fourth quarter of 2024 and are expected to be deployed in trades between Asia and Africa. The charter period of the secondhanded vessels is up to 4.5 years, whereas the charter duration of the newbuild vessels is up to 5.3 years.
In addition to the vessels that we own and charter, we own and charter a significant number of shipping containers. As of December 31, 2021, we held 568,648 container units with a total capacity of 987,356 TEUs, of which 37% were owned by us and 63% were leased (including 56% accounted as right-of- use assets). In some cases, the terms of our leases provide that we will have the option to purchase the container at the end of the lease term.
Container fleet management
We aim to reposition empty containers in the most cost-efficient way in order to minimize our overall empty container moves and container fleet while meeting demand. Due to a natural imbalance in demand between trade areas, we seek to optimize our container fleet by repositioning empty containers at minimum cost in order to timely and efficiently meet our customers’ demands. Our global logistics team oversees the internal management of empty containers and equipment to support this optimization effort. In addition to repairing and maintaining our container fleet, our logistics team continuously optimizes the flow of empty containers based on commercial demands and operational constraints. Below is a summary of our logistics initiatives relating to container fleet management:
|●||Slot swap agreements. We enter into agreements with other carriers for the exchange of vessel space, or “slots.” Each carrier continues to operate its own line, while also having access to slots on the other carrier’s line. We believe we are a market leader in developing the slot swap market in the container shipping industry. We currently have slot swap agreements with 12 other carriers.|
|●||Slot sale agreements. We sell slots on board our vessels to transport empty, shipper-owned containers.|
|●||One-way container lease. We use leasing companies and other shipping liners’ empty containers to move cargo from locations with increased demand to over-supplied locations. We are a global leader in one-way container volumes.|
|●||Equipment sub-leases. We lease our equipment to other carriers and freight forwarders in order to reduce our container repositioning and evacuation costs.|
We believe that through these initiatives, we are able to minimize costs associated with natural trade imbalances, increase the utilization of our vessels, and reliably supply our customers with empty containers where and when they are needed.
Our operational partnerships
We are party to a large number of cooperation agreements with other shipping companies and alliances, which generally provide for the joint operation of shipping services by vessel sharing agreements, the exchange of capacity and the sale or purchase of slots on vessels operated by other shipping companies. We do not participate in any alliances, which are a type of vessel sharing agreement that involves joint operations of fleets of vessels and sharing of vessel space in multiple trades, although we do partner with the 2M Alliance on two related trades, as described below. By not participating in alliances and focusing instead on cooperation agreements, we are able to capture many of the benefits of alliance membership while retaining a higher degree of strategic flexibility than is typically afforded to alliance members. Our cooperation agreements provide us with access to a wider coverage of ports and specialized lines, which enables us to improve our transit times and reduce operational expenses and repositioning costs.
Strategic Cooperation Agreement with the 2M Alliance
In September 2018, we entered into a strategic operational cooperation agreement with the 2M Alliance in the Asia-USEC trade zone, which includes a joint network of five lines operated by us and by the 2M Alliance. The term of the strategic cooperation is seven years. The strategic cooperation originally included the creation of a joint network of five loops between Asia and USEC, out of which one is operated by us and four are operated by the 2M Alliance. In addition, we and the 2M Alliance were permitted to swap slots on all five loops under the agreement and we could purchase additional slots in order to meet total demand in these trades. This strategic cooperation with the 2M Alliance enables us to provide our customers with improved port coverage and transit time, while generating cost efficiencies. In March 2019, we entered into a second strategic cooperation agreement with the 2M Alliance, which included a combination of vessel sharing, slot exchange and purchase, and covers two additional trade zones: Asia-East Mediterranean and Asia-American Pacific Northwest. This cooperation agreement offers four dedicated lines with extensive port coverage and premium service levels. In August 2019, we launched two new U.S.-Gulf Coast direct services with the 2M Alliance. At the end of 2020 we further upsized a joint service by utilizing larger vessels on the Asia U.S. Gulf Coast service and the Asia-U.S. East Coast service and in June 2021 we launched a new joint service line connecting from Yantian and Vietnam to U.S. South Atlantic ports via Panama Canal. In February 2022 we announced our principal agreement with the 2M alliance to extend the existing collaboration agreement on the Asia-USEC and Asia-USGC under a full slot exchange and vessel sharing agreement, as well as to launch an independent pendulum service on the Asia-Mediterranean and Pacific Northwest trades, replacing our cooperation with the 2M Alliance on those trades effective as of April 2022. Under our new collaboration agreement with the 2M, we or the 2M Alliance may not terminate the agreement during the first 18 months of the collaboration but may terminate the agreement by providing a six-month prior written notice following the initial 12-month period from the effective date of the agreement, which is a shorter period compared to the original agreement terms.
The table below shows our operational partners by geographic trade zone as of December 31, 2021:
Geographic trade zone
Mediterranean Shipping Company(1)
CMA CGM S.A.
Evergreen Marine Corporation
China Ocean Shipping Company
American President Lines Ltd.
Orient Overseas Container Line Limited
Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation(2)
Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., Ltd.
|(1)||Our cooperation with Maersk and MSC is under the 2M Alliance framework. However, in the Latin America we also have a separate bilateral cooperation agreement with MSC, and our separate bilateral cooperation with MSC on the Atlantic terminated effective as of February 2022. We also have a separate bilateral cooperation agreement with Maersk and in the Latin America and Intra Asia trades.|
|(2)||With respect to the Atlantic-Europe trade, we have a swap agreement with some of THE Alliance members: Hapag-Lloyd and Yang Ming, supporting ZIM loadings on THE Alliance service on this trade. ZIM also has a separate bilateral agreement in respect of the Atlantic-Europe trade with Hapag-Lloyd.|
|(3)||Cooperation to terminate effective as of April 2022.|
|(4)||Cooperation terminated in February 2022.|
We believe that as one of the oldest cargo shipping companies in the world, our extensive experience, our consistent track record of stable operations and our reputation for reliability and efficiency enable us to retain our existing customers and attract new customers.
In 2020, we had more than 36,000 customers using our services on a non-consolidated basis. Our customer base is well-diversified, and we do not depend upon any single customer for a material portion of our revenue. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2021, no single customer represented more than 5% of our revenues. Additionally, our customers have maintained a high degree of retention and loyalty to our businesses. For the third year in a row, we scored 86 on the Customer Loyalty Index in the Yearly Customer Experience Survey conducted by Ipsos (the third largest global market research company), which is above the worldwide average score of 78. All of our 10 largest customers by revenue have been doing business with us for more than 10 years, and five of these customers have been doing business with us for more than 25 years. Four of our largest 10 customers by revenue in the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021, have been in the top 10 in each year since 2018. Our customers include blue chip companies as well as a growing customer base of small- and medium-sized enterprises.
We intend to continue to strengthen our relationships with our key customers and to increase our direct sales to small- and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, which we define as customers that ship up to 100 TEUs annually. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2021, and 2020, SMEs represented 12% and 11%, respectively, of aggregate carried volume worldwide. We believe this large and growing segment of the cargo shipping market represents a significant growth opportunity for us within certain of the jurisdictions in which we operate, including China, India, South-East Asia, United States, Canada, Brazil, Israel, Turkey and Italy, wherein we have a dedicated sales team for this growing segment. In addition, during 2021 we have increased our global deployment of services and presence by both establishing new local agencies and strengthening our partnerships primarily in South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Our customers are divided into “end-users,” including exporters and importers, and “freight forwarders.” Exporters include a wide range of enterprises, from global manufacturers to small family-owned businesses that may ship just a few TEUs each year. Importers are usually the direct purchasers of goods from exporters, but may also comprise sales or distribution agents and may or may not receive the containerized goods at the final point of delivery. Freight forwarders are non-vessel operating common carriers that assemble cargo from customers for forwarding through a shipping company. We believe that a diverse mix of cargo from both end-users and freight forwarders ensures optimal vessel utilization. End-users generally have long-term commitments that facilitate planning for future volumes, which results in high entry barriers for competing carriers due to customer loyalty. Freight forwarders have short-term contracts at renegotiated rates. As a result, entry barriers are low for competing carriers for this customer base. Our relationships with large end-users give us better visibility on future cargo shipping transport volumes while our relationships with large freight forwarders, which generate cargo in many locations worldwide, help us to optimize our trade flows.
During the last five years, end-users have constituted approximately 36% of our customers in terms of TEUs carried, and the remainder of our customers were freight forwarders. Our contracts with main customers are typically for a fixed term of one year on all trades. Our contracts with customers may be for a certain voyage or period of time and typically do not include exclusivity clauses in our favor. Our customer mix varies within each of the markets in which we operate, as we tailor our sales and marketing strategies to the unique conditions of each specific market.
For the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, our five largest customers in the aggregate accounted for approximately 12%, 10% and 9% of our freight revenues and related services, respectively, and 8%, 7% and 7% of our TEUs carried for each year.
Over the last 12 months, we employed 22 full-time sales professionals in our headquarters in Haifa, Israel, and approximately 750 sales personnel worldwide (including in Israel). Our sales force is organized by customer type and supported by data-driven analytics to better understand our customers and better address their needs while maintaining desired profitability levels. We currently manage over 90% of our business on our unified information technology platform (CRM), which supports all our business processes. Operating on this unified platform enables our sales teams to quickly and consistently deliver solutions to our customers. In addition, for the year ended December 31, 2021, and 2020, approximately 86% and 85%, respectively, of transactions with our customers were completed via our websites, our platforms and e-commerce platforms, which reduces the error rate and costs associated with correcting errors. We have transformed our sales processes in all key markets in which we operate, to working by our commercial excellence methodology, to ensure alignment between all the sales initiatives and take our global sales a step forward. Each customer is assigned to a member of our sales team to serve as a single point of contact for all the customer’s specific shipping needs.
Our sales teams are motivated by the operational and commercial targets we set for each specific country. We believe that our global network of services and the local presence of our offices and agencies around the world enable us to develop direct customer relationships, maintain a positive buying experience and increase the number of repeat customers. Our internal marketing team complements our external sales efforts by providing training and support materials, such as marketing kits and question-and-answer documents and ensuring the consistency of our brand messaging in our direct marketing, publicity, digital media and social media channels.
We have dedicated strategic accounts teams located in our headquarters in Haifa, supported by regional teams, working directly with our strategic accounts, such as international freight forwarders and end- users (BCOs). Our sales team in our headquarters works directly with sales executives in either owned, partially owned or contracted local agencies which perform our primary sales and marketing functions and manage customer relationships on a day-to-day basis. We have an ability to provide proactive and differentiated services level to our strategic accounts in Asia and U.S.A.
We also employ specially trained and experienced sales experts for each type of specialized cargo we carry, who are available to consult our customers on the practical and regulatory requirements of shipping their cargo.
Global Customer service
As of December 31, 2021, we employed 35 full-time service professionals, of which 26 are located in our headquarters in Haifa and seven are located worldwide, supported by three regional teams, leading and guiding our eight worldwide customer service teams, reaching approximately 1,200 customer service representative and managers.
In the last three years, we have been focusing on implementing a new unified holistic program called SmartCS, a unified organizational structure, working methodology and best practice processes, supported by an advanced IT infrastructure and tools for better managing our customers’ experience across our customer service units worldwide. SmartCS’ main building blocks are: a CRM system, which we are in the process of upgrading, providing a 360 degree view of all customer interactions; a knowledge management system, enabling a professional and quick resolution to all customer queries; soft skills trainings; a defined set of strict ‘best in class’ KPIs; and a variety of ongoing & periodic surveys to reflect actual customer feedback. As of December 31, 2021, implementation coverage reached approximately 70% of our business volume and is targeted to reach above 80% by end of 2022.
We have also been investing significantly in a digital transformation to use technology in order to transform the way we think, act, and perform, making it easier for our customers to do business with us. Main platforms and services introduced in the last three years include: a new company website, which is designed for any device, supports multiple languages, and includes dynamic service maps, local news and updates, live chat, reaching more than approximately 1,200,000 unique visitors per month; myZIM Customer Personal Area, which provides our customers with a more efficient and convenient way to manage all of their shipments under one digital platform and easily access documentation, online draft bill of lading as well print bill of lading, proactive personal notifications, reaching over 7,000 registered customers; eZIM, a fast and easy way to directly submit eBooking & eShipping Instructions, supported by live chat; eZQuote, which provides instant quoting, fixed price and guaranteed equipment and space, allowing customers to receive instant quotes with a fixed price and guaranteed terms; Lead-to-Agreement, a system that manages all of our commercial agreements and streamlines communications between our geographic trade zones, sales force and customers; Dynamic Pricing, an analytical engine that defines the optimal pricing for spot transactions, assisting us in increasing profitability margins; Commercial Excellence, an advanced cloud based analytical tool that assists our geographic trade zones in focusing on more profitable customers in specific trades; “Hive”, a yield management platform which enables instant cargo selection and booking acceptance based on defined business rules, while providing geographic trade zones with live view and interactive control over forecasts, booking acceptances and equipment releases, maximizing the profitability of each voyage and improving response time to our customers; and ZIMapp, a complementary digital gateway service that allows easy access to both ZIM.com and myZIM, anywhere and anytime. All platforms & services are “Powered By Our Customers”, an innovative approach supported by a working methodology in which customers are taking an active part in designing our digital experience for customers by customers.
As of December 31, 2021, we have contractual agreements to charter-in approximately 96.9% of our TEU capacity and 96.6% of the vessels in our fleet. Access to chartered-in vessels of varying capacities, as appropriate for each of the trades in which we operate, is necessary for the operation of our business. Although we have increased the number of our chartered vessels during 2021 and have entered into strategic chartering agreements, charter rates are currently at significant elevated levels for all vessel sizes, with shortage of available vessels for hire. See “Item 3.D - Risk factors — We charter-in most of our fleet, which makes us more sensitive to fluctuations in the charter market, and as a result of our dependency on the vessel charter market, the costs associated with chartering vessels are unpredictable, and “We may face difficulties in chartering or owning enough vessels, including large vessels, to support our growth strategy due to the possible shortage of vessel supply in the market”.
We have Terminal Services Agreements (TSAs) with terminal operators and contractual arrangements with other relevant vendors to conduct cargo operations in the various ports and terminals that we use around the world. Access to terminal facilities in each port is necessary for the operation of our business. Although we believe we have been able to contract for sufficient capacity at appropriate terminal facilities in the past five years, the current high demand and severe congestion in ports and terminals may increase our costs and dependency on berthing windows in terminals. See “Item 3.D – Risk factors - Access to ports could be limited or unavailable, including due to congestion in terminals and inland supply chains, and we may incur additional costs as a result thereof”.
We have contractual agreements to purchase approximately 90% of our annual bunker estimated requirements with suppliers at various ports around the world. We have been able to secure sufficient bunker supply under contract or on a spot basis.
Land transportation providers
We have services agreements with third-party land transportation providers, including providers of rail, truck and river barge transport. We have entered into a rail services agreement with CN for land transportation of our shipments destined for Canada and the United States via Vancouver and Halifax, Canada.
Information and communication systems
The ability to process information accurately and quickly is fundamental to our position in the cargo shipping industry, which is characterized by constant movement of millions of individual items across a global network of sea and inland routes. Our information and communication systems are key operational and management assets which support many of our units, including shipping agencies, individual lines and various head office departments. With a primary data center in Europe and back-up data center in Israel, our information and communication systems enable us to monitor our vessels and containers, coordinate shipping schedules, manage the loading of containers onto vessels and plan transportation schedules. We also rely on our information and communication systems to support back-office activities, such as processing cargo bookings, generating bills of lading and cargo manifests, expediting customs clearance, and facilitating equipment control and the planning and management of inter-modal transportation, as well as financial and human resources activities. See Item 3.D. “Risk factors — We face risks relating to our information technology and communication system.” In addition, as our reliance on our information and communication systems grow and as we rely more on remote connectivity of our employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we face heightened cyber security threats. We have invested our efforts in mitigating our cyber security risks. See Item 3.D “Risk factors - We face cyber-security risks”.
Unified platform. Our proprietary information technology platform AgenTeam, as well as Agent Cloud and IQship for local agencies, supports our business processes throughout the supply chain. AgenTeam, Agent Cloud and IQship have been installed in 89 countries, and we currently manage more than 99% of our business on this platform.
Business intelligence. Additionally, we use our platform to respond quickly to changes in demand in each of our shipping lines by providing information to our shipping agencies and area managers relating to the value, volume and mix of cargo on a particular voyage or vessel. Accurate and timely information on the value, volume and mix of cargo also helps us to analyze the efficiency of our fleet deployment, capacity utilization, demand and supply in different services and shipping lines, based on which we refine the positioning of vessels and containers to reduce imbalances between outgoing voyages from a point of origin and return voyages. See “— Our Customers — Customer Service.”
Data analysis. Moreover, we have a dedicated team of 25 business intelligence analysts who monitor and analyze an average of 7 terabytes of data per month relating to our key performance indicators, which helps, among others, our sales force target more profitable customers. We also analyze operating expenses by calculating the standard cost of each activity that affects our operating expenses either directly or indirectly and monitoring items such as fuel consumption, vessel charter hire rates, expenses incidental to cargo handling and port expenses for each vessel or voyage. This, in turn, enables us to identify opportunities to implement efficiency measures and improve margins using up-to-date operational data, including monthly financial results and expenses incurred for each voyage, routes, mileage information and other key performance indicators.
Customer support. Further, through our website, we enable our customers to monitor the movement of their cargo on our vessels from the cargo’s point of origin through various ports and inter-modal transportation to its final destination. As part of enhancing the customer experience, customer can also easily subscribe to proactive cargo-tracing notification and get the latest container event once it is occurred. This service is open to all ZIM website visitors and provides a complementary service to the track a shipment functionality.
In addition, we offer customers automated data interchange for shipment information and invoicing, while also offering customers information relating to schedules, pricing, lines of service and other data to allow them to plan and book transactions directly with us. In addition, our information and communication systems allow us to prepare and transmit bills of lading more efficiently and enables shipping agencies to respond to individual customer needs quickly. We believe that by supporting our customers’ supply chain management, our information and communication systems can strengthen our customer service capabilities.
Sustainability and Focus on ESG
Through our core value of sustainability, and in accordance with our Code of Ethics, we aim to uphold and advance a set of principles regarding Ethical, Social and Environmental concerns. Our goal is to work resolutely to eliminate corruption risks, promote diversity among our teams and continuously reduce the environmental impact of our operations, both at sea and onshore. In particular, our vessels are in full compliance with materials and waste treatment regulations, including full compliance with the IMO 2020 Regulations, and our fuel consumption and CO2 emissions per TEU have decreased significantly in recent years. Furthermore, during 2021 we have entered into strategic agreements with Seaspan for the long-term charter of ten 15,000 TEU and fifteen 7,000 TEU LNG dual-fueled vessels, and an eight year charter of three 7,000 TEU LNG dual-fuel from a shipping company affiliated with our largest shareholder (see - Strategic Chartering Agreements"). In addition to actively working to reduce accidents and security risks in our operations, we also endeavor to eliminate corruption risks as a member of the Maritime AntiCorruption Network, with a vision of a maritime industry that enables fair trade. We also foster quality throughout the service chain, by selectively working with qualified partners to advance our business interests. Finally, we promote diversity among our teams, with a focus on developing high-quality training courses for all employees. We have invested efforts and resources in promoting diversity in our company, such as monitoring gender diversity of our company on an annual basis, collaborating with nonprofit organization to increase the hiring of employees from diverse backgrounds and with disabilities, participating in special events to raise awareness to diversity and globally communicating our efforts, both internally and externally. Furthermore, we publish annual sustainability reports, focusing, among other, on our environmental efforts and initiatives, best governance practices and diversity. As we continue to grow, sustainability remains as a core value. We expect ESG regulation will intensify in the future.
We compete with a large number of global, regional and niche shipping companies to provide transport services to customers worldwide. In each of our key trades, we compete primarily with global shipping companies. The market is significantly concentrated with the top three carriers — A.P. Moller-Maersk Line, MSC and COSCO — accounting for approximately 46.5% of global capacity, and the remaining carriers together contributing 53.5% of global capacity as of February 2022, according to Alphaliner. As of February 2022, we controlled approximately 1.7% of the global cargo shipping capacity and ranked 10th among shipping carriers globally in terms of TEU operated capacity, according to Alphaliner. See “Item 3.D Risk factors — The container shipping industry is highly competitive and competition may intensify even further, which could negatively affect our market position and financial performance.”
In addition to the large global carriers, regional carriers generally focus on a number of smaller routes within a regional market and typically offer services to a wider range of ports within a particular market as compared to global carriers. Niche carriers are similar to regional carriers but tend to be even smaller in terms of capacity and the number and size of the markets in which they operate. Niche carriers often provide an intra-regional service, focusing on ports and services that are not served by global carriers.
We believe that the cargo shipping industry is characterized by the significant time and capital required to develop the operating expertise and professional reputation necessary to obtain and retain customers. We believe that our development of a large fleet with varying TEU capacities has enhanced our relationship with our principal customers by enabling them to serve the East-West, North-South and Intra-regional shipping lines efficiently, while enabling us to operate in the different rate environments prevailing for those routes. We also believe that our focus on customer service and reliability enhances our relationships with our customers and improves customer loyalty. Additionally, we believe that our global deployment of services and presence through local agencies, both in our key trades and in our niche trades, is a competitive advantage. In addition, we operate transshipment hubs in trades, allowing us access to those zones while providing rapid and competitive services.
Risk of loss and liability insurance
The operation of any vessel includes risks such as mechanical failure, collision, property loss or damage, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to a number of reasons, including political circumstances in foreign countries, hostilities and labor strikes. In addition, there is always an inherent possibility of marine disaster, including oil spills and other environmental mishaps, as well as other liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade. The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990, or OPA 90, which imposes under certain circumstances, unlimited liability upon owners, operators and demise charterers of vessels trading in the United States exclusive economic zone for certain oil pollution accidents in the United States, has made liability insurance more expensive for shipowners and operators trading in the U.S. market.
We maintain hull and machinery and war risks insurance for our fleet to cover normal risks in our operations and in amounts that we believe to be prudent to cover such risks. In addition, we maintain protection and indemnity insurance up to the maximum insurable limit available at any given time. While we believe that our insurance coverage will be adequate, not all risks can be insured, and there can be no guarantee that we will always be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates or at all, or that any specific claim we may make under our insurance coverage will be paid.
Protection and indemnity insurance
Protection and indemnity insurance is usually provided by protection and indemnity, or P&I, clubs and covers third-party liability, crew liability and other related expenses resulting from the injury or death of crew, passengers and other third parties, the loss or damage to cargo, third-party claims arising from collisions with other vessels (to the extent not recovered by the hull and machinery policies), damage to other third-party property, pollution arising from oil or other substances and salvage, towing and other related costs, including wreck removal.
The respective owners of the vessels that we charter-in maintain insurance on those vessels, and we maintain charter liability insurance with a limit of $750 million per incident, as the charterer’s activity typically consists of a much lower exposure than that of the owner. We also hold an excess policy provided by a P&I Club of up to $100 million in excess of $750 million per incident for our chartered-in vessels. For five vessels, we have special joint insurance coverage with the owners where we maintain charterers’ liability insurance with a limit of $350 million per incident. For these vessels, we also hold an excess policy provided by Lloyd’s underwriters of up to $400 million in excess of $350 million per incident, and another excess policy provided by Lloyd’s underwriters of up to $100 million in excess of $750 million per incident.
Our protection and indemnity insurance is provided by several P&I clubs that are members of the International Group of P&I Clubs. The 13 P&I clubs that comprise the International Group insure approximately 90% of the world’s commercial blue-water tonnage and have entered into a pooling agreement to reinsure each association’s liabilities. Insurance provided by a P&I club is a form of mutual indemnity insurance.
Our maximum theoretical P&I insurance coverage for our own operated vessels is approximately $7 billion per vessel per incident, subject to a limit of $1 billion per vessel per incident for oil pollution, an aggregate limit of $23 billion per vessel per incident for passenger only and $2 billion per vessel per incident for passengers crew combined. war liabilities are covered in excess of the “insured value” of the specific vessel.
As a member of a P&I club, which is a member of the International Group, we will be subject to calls payable to the P&I club based on the International Group’s claim records as well as the claim records of all other members of the P&I club of which we are a member.
Inspections, permits and authorizations
A variety of governmental and private entities subject our vessels to both scheduled and unscheduled inspections. These entities include the local port authorities’ Port State Control (such as the U.S. Coast Guard, harbor master or equivalent), classification societies, flag state administration (country of registry), particularly terminal operators. Certain of these entities require us to obtain certain permits, licenses, financial assurances and certificates with respect to our vessels. The kinds of permits, licenses, financial assurances and certificates required depend upon several factors, including the cargo transported, the waters in which the vessel operates, the nationality of the vessel’s crew and the type and age of the vessel. Failure to maintain necessary permits or approvals could require us to incur substantial costs or result in the temporary suspension of the operation of one or more of our vessels in one or more ports. We believe we have obtained all permits, licenses, financial assurances and certificates currently required to operate our vessels. Additional laws and regulations, environmental or otherwise, may be adopted which could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of doing business.
Environmental and other regulations in the shipping industry
Government regulations and laws significantly affect the ownership and operation of our vessels. We are subject to international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and national and international regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate or are registered relating to the protection of the environment. Such requirements are subject to ongoing developments and amendments and relate to, among other things, the storage, handling, emission, transportation and discharge of hazardous and non-hazardous substances, such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and the use of low-sulfur fuel or shore power voltage, and the remediation of contamination and liability for damages to natural resources. These laws and regulations include OPA 90, CERCLA, the CWA, the U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970 (including its amendments of 1977 and 1990) (CAA), and regulations adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), including the International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), and the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (the SOLAS Convention), as well as regulations enacted by the European Union and other international, national and local regulatory bodies. Compliance with such requirements, where applicable, entails significant expense, including vessel modifications and implementation of certain operating procedures. If such costs are not covered by our insurance policies, we could be exposed to high costs in respect of environmental liability damages, administrative and civil penalties, criminal charges or sanctions, and could suffer substantive harm to our operations and goodwill to the extent that environmental damages are caused by our operations. We instruct the crews of our vessels on environmental requirements and we operate in accordance with procedures that are intended to ensure compliance with such requirements. We also insure our activities, where effective for us to do so, in order to hedge our environmental risks.
We believe that the heightened level of environmental and quality concerns among insurance underwriters, regulators and charterers is leading to greater inspection and safety requirements for all vessels and may accelerate designating older vessels for sale throughout the cargo shipping industry. Increasing environmental concerns have created a demand for vessels that conform to the strictest environmental standards (such as LNG fueled vessels). We are required to maintain operating standards for all of our vessels that emphasize operational safety, quality maintenance, continuous training of our officers and crews and compliance with U.S. and international regulations. For example, we are certified in accordance with ISO 14001-2015 (relating to environmental standards). We believe that the operation of our vessels is in substantial compliance with applicable environmental requirements and that our vessels have all material permits, licenses, certificates and other authorizations necessary for the conduct of our operations. However, because such requirements frequently change and may become increasingly more stringent, we cannot predict our ability to comply and the ultimate cost of complying with these requirements, or the impact of these requirements on the useful lives or resale value of our vessels. In addition, a future serious marine incident that causes significant adverse environmental impact could result in additional legislation or regulation that could negatively affect our profitability.
Finally, we are subject, in connection with our international activities, to laws, directives, decisions and orders in various countries around the world that prohibit or restrict trade with certain countries, individuals and entities.
International Maritime Organization
Our vessels are subject to standards imposed by the IMO, the United Nations agency for maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by vessels. The IMO has adopted regulations that are designed to reduce pollution in international waters, both from accidents and from routine operations, and has negotiated international conventions that impose liability for oil pollution in international waters and a signatory’s territorial waters. For example, the IMO has adopted MARPOL, the SOLAS Convention, and the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966 (the LL Convention). MARPOL establishes numerous environmental standards including those relating to oil leakage or spilling, garbage management, sewage, air emissions, handling and disposal of noxious liquids and the handling of harmful substances in packaged forms. MARPOL is applicable to drybulk, tanker and LNG carriers, among other vessels, and is broken into six Annexes, each of which regulates a different source of pollution. Annex I relates to oil leakage or spilling; Annexes II and III relate to harmful substances carried in bulk in liquid or in packaged form, respectively; Annexes IV and V relate to sewage and garbage management, respectively; and Annex VI, lastly, relates to air emissions. Annex VI was separately adopted by the IMO in September of 1997 and new emissions standards, titled IMO-2020, took effect on January 1, 2020.
In 2012, the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC), adopted a resolution amending the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code). The provisions of the IBC Code are mandatory under MARPOL and the SOLAS Convention. These amendments, which entered into force in June 2014, pertain to revised international certificates of fitness for the carriage of dangerous chemicals in bulk and identifying new products that fall under the IBC Code.
In 2013, the MEPC adopted a resolution amending MARPOL Annex I Conditional Assessment Scheme (CAS). These amendments became effective on October 1, 2014, and require compliance with the 2011 International Code of Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, which provides for enhanced inspection programs.
We may need to make certain financial expenditures to continue to comply with these amendments. We believe that our vessels are currently in compliance in all material respects with these requirements.
On October 27, 2016, the MEPC agreed to implement the IMO 2020 Regulations, including a global 0.5% m/m sulfur oxide emissions limit (reduced from 3.5%) starting January 1, 2020. This limitation can be met by using low-sulfur compliant fuel oil, alternative fuels, or certain exhaust gas cleaning systems. Ships are now required to obtain bunker delivery notes and International Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) Certificates from their flag states that specify sulfur content. Additionally, amendments to Annex VI to prohibit the carriage of bunkers above 0.5% sulfur on ships were adopted and took effect March 1, 2020, with the exception of vessels fitted with scrubbers which can carry fuel of higher sulfur content. These regulations subject ocean-going vessels to stringent emissions controls, and may cause us to incur substantial costs, in particular those related to the purchase of compliant fuel oil. Annex VI also provides for the establishment of special areas known as Emission Control Areas, or ECAs, where more stringent controls on sulfur and nitrogen emissions apply. Since January 1, 2015, ships operating within an ECA have not been permitted to use fuel with sulfur content in excess of 0.1% m/m. Currently, the IMO has designated four ECAs, including specified portions of the Baltic Sea area, North Sea area, North American area and United States Caribbean area. If new ECAs are approved by the IMO or other new or more stringent air emission requirements are adopted by the IMO or the jurisdictions where we operate, compliance with these requirements could entail significant additional capital expenditures, operational changes or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.
As determined at the MEPC 70, the new Regulation 22A of MARPOL Annex VI became effective as of March 1, 2018 and requires ships above 5,000 gross tonnage to collect and report annual data on fuel oil consumption to an IMO database, with the first year of data collection commenced on January 1, 2019.
The IMO intends to use such data as the first step in its roadmap (through 2023) for developing its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships, as discussed further below.
As of January 1, 2013, MARPOL made mandatory certain measures relating to energy efficiency for ships. All ships are now required to develop and implement Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans (SEEMPS), and new ships must be designed in compliance with minimum energy efficiency levels per capacity mile as defined by the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI). Under these measures, by 2025, all new ships built will be required to be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2014.
In addition, in June 2021, the IMO adopted extensive new CO2 regulation applicable to existing ships, which will take effect after January 1, 2023, and that comprises the following: (i) The Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), which addresses the technical efficiency of ships, will enter into effect following the first annual, intermediate or renewal of Initial Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) vessel survey after January 1, 2023, (ii) the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) rating scheme, which addresses the operational efficiency of the vessel, and (iii) the enhanced Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), which will require vessel operators to keep an energy efficiency management plan onboard. We expect the implementation of this new regulation to take place on our owned and chartered vessels commencing from the fourth quarter of 2022.
We may incur costs to comply with these revised standards. Additional or new conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted that could require the installation of expensive emission control systems and could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial conditions.
Safety management system requirements
The SOLAS Convention was amended to address the safe manning of vessels and emergency training drills. The Convention of Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (the LLMC) sets limitations of liability for a loss of life or personal injury claim or a property claim against ship owners. We believe that our vessels are in full compliance with SOLAS and LLMC standards.
Additionally, the operation of our vessels is based on the requirements set forth in the ISM Code. The ISM Code requires vessel managers to develop and maintain an extensive Safety Management System, or SMS, that includes the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy, sets forth instructions and procedures for safe vessel operation and describes procedures for dealing with emergencies. The ISM Code requires that vessel operators obtain a Safety Management Certificate for each vessel they operate from the government of the vessel’s flag state. The certificate verifies that the vessel operates in compliance with its approved SMS. No vessel can obtain a certificate unless the flag state has issued a document of compliance with the ISM Code to the vessel’s manager. Failure to comply with the ISM Code may lead to withdrawal of the permit to manage or operate the vessels, subject such party to increased liability, decrease or suspend available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. Each of our vessels are ISM Code-certified.
Ballast water discharge requirements
In 2004, the IMO adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the BWM Convention). The BWM Convention entered into force on September 8, 2017. The BWM Convention requires ships to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of new or invasive aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments.
As of the entry into force date, all ships in international traffic are required to manage their ballast water and sediments to a certain standard according to a ship-specific ballast water management plan, maintain a record book of the ship’s discharge, intake and treatment of ballast water and (for ships over 400 gross tons) be issued a certificate by or on behalf of the flag state certifying that the ship carries out ballast water management in accordance with the BWM Convention. The MEPC adopted two ballast water management standards. The “D-1 standard” requires the exchange of ballast water in open seas and away from coastal waters. The “D-2 standard” specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged. The D-1 standard generally applies to all existing ships. The D-2 standard applies to all new ships, and for existing ships, becomes effective upon the ship’s first IOPP renewal survey on or after September 8, 2019, but no later than September 9, 2024. For most existing ships, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms. Ballast water management systems, which include systems that make use of chemical, biocides, organisms or biological mechanisms, or which alter the chemical or physical characteristics of the ballast water, must be approved in accordance with IMO Guidelines (Regulation D-3). As of October 13, 2019, MEPC 72’s amendments to the BWM Convention took effect, making the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which governs assessment of ballast water management systems, mandatory rather than permissive, and formalized an implementation schedule for the D-2 standard. Costs of compliance with these regulations may be substantial.
Once mid-ocean ballast water treatment requirements under the D-2 standard become mandatory pursuant to the BWM Convention, the cost of compliance could increase for ocean carriers and may have a material effect on our operations. However, many countries already regulate the discharge of ballast water carried by vessels from country to country to prevent the introduction of invasive and harmful species via such discharges. The U.S., for example, requires vessels entering its waters from another country to conduct mid-ocean ballast exchange, or undertake some alternate measure, and to comply with certain reporting requirements. The system specification requirements for trading in the U.S. have been formalized and we have been installing ballast water treatment systems on our vessels as their special survey deadlines come due.
The cost of each ballast water treatment system is approximately $0.4 million, primarily dependent on the size of the vessel.
Pollution control and liability requirements
The IMO adopted the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969, as amended by different Protocols in 1976, 1984 and 1992, and amended in 2000 (the CLC). Under the CLC and depending on whether the country in which the damage results is a party to the 1992 Protocol to the CLC, a vessel’s registered owner may be strictly liable for pollution damage caused in the territorial waters of a contracting state by discharge of persistent oil, subject to certain exceptions. The 1992 Protocol changed certain limits on liability expressed using the International Monetary Fund currency unit, the Special Drawing Rights. The limits on liability have since been amended so that the compensation limits on liability were raised. The right to limit liability is forfeited under the CLC where the spill is caused by the shipowner’s actual fault and under the 1992 Protocol where the spill is caused by the shipowner’s intentional or reckless act or omission where the shipowner knew pollution damage would probably result. The CLC requires ships over 2,000 tons covered by it to maintain insurance covering the liability of the owner in a sum equivalent to an owner’s liability for a single incident. We have protection and indemnity insurance for environmental incidents.
The IMO International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, when it enters into force, will provide for compensation to be paid to victims of accidents involving hazardous and noxious substances, or HNS. HNS are defined by reference to lists of substances included in various IMO conventions and codes and include oils, other liquid substances defined as noxious or dangerous, liquefied gases, liquid substances with a flashpoint not exceeding 60°C, dangerous, hazardous and harmful materials and substances carried in packaged form, solid bulk materials defined as possessing chemical hazards, and certain residues left by the previous carriage of HNS. This convention will introduce strict liability for the shipowner and a system of compulsory insurance and insurance certificates. This convention is still awaiting the requisite number of signatories in order to enter into force.
The IMO has adopted the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, or the Bunker Convention, to impose strict liability on vessel owners (including the registered owner, bareboat charterer, manager or operator) for pollution damage in jurisdictional waters of ratifying states caused by discharges of bunker fuel. The Bunker Convention requires registered owners of vessels over 1,000 gross tons to maintain insurance for pollution damage in an amount equal to the limits of liability under the applicable national or international limitation regime (but not exceeding the amount calculated in accordance with the LLMC). With respect to non-ratifying states, liability for spills or releases of petroleum carried as fuel in ship’s bunkers typically is determined by the national or other domestic laws in the jurisdiction in which the events or damages occur. Vessels are required to maintain a certificate attesting that they maintain adequate insurance to cover an incident. P&I Clubs in the International Group issue the required Bunker Convention’s “Blue Cards” to enable signatory states to issue certificates. All of our vessels are in possession of a CLC State issued certificate attesting that the required insurance coverage is in force in accordance with the Bunker Convention. In jurisdictions, such as the U.S. where the CLC or Bunker Convention has not been adopted, various legislative schemes or common law govern, and liability is imposed either on the basis of fault or strict liability.
United States requirements
OPA 90 established an extensive regulatory and liability regime for the protection of the environment from oil spills and cleanup of oil spills. OPA 90 applies to discharges of any oil from a vessel, including discharges of fuel and lubricants. OPA 90 affects all owners and operators whose vessels trade or operate within in the U.S., its territories and possessions or whose vessels operate in U.S. waters, which include the U.S.’s territorial sea and its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone. While we do not carry oil as cargo, we do carry bunker fuel in our vessels, making them subject to the requirements of OPA 90. The U.S. has also enacted CERCLA, which applies to the discharge of hazardous substances other than oil, except in limited circumstances, whether on land or at sea. OPA and CERCLA both define “owner and operator” in the case of a vessel as any person owning, operating or chartering by demise, the vessel. Both OPA and CERCLA impact our operations.
Under OPA 90, vessel owners, operators and bareboat charterers are “responsible parties” and are jointly, severally and strictly liable (unless the discharge of pollutants results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war) for all containment and clean-up costs and other damages arising from discharges or threatened discharges, of pollutants from their vessels, including bunkers. OPA 90 defines these other damages broadly to include:
|●||injury to, destruction or loss of, or loss of use of, natural resources and related assessment costs;|
|●||injury to, or economic losses resulting from, the destruction of real and personal property;|
|●||loss of subsistence use of natural resources that are injured, destroyed or lost;|
|●||net loss of taxes, royalties, rents, fees and or net profit revenues resulting from injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property, or natural resources;|
|●||lost profits or impairment of earning capacity due to injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property or natural resources; and|
|●||net cost of increased or additional public services necessitated by removal activities following a discharge of pollutants, such as protection from fire, safety or health hazards, and loss of subsistence use of natural resources.|
U.S. Coast Guard regulations limit OPA 90 liability. Effective November 21, 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard adjusted the limits of OPA liability for a tank vessel, other than a single-hull tank vessel, over 3,000 gross tons liability to the greater of $2,300 per gross ton or $19,943,400 (subject to periodic adjustment for inflation). These limits of liability do not apply if an incident was proximately caused by the violation of an applicable U.S. federal safety, construction or operating regulation by a responsible party (or its agent, employee or a person acting pursuant to a contractual relationship), or a responsible party’s gross negligence or willful misconduct. The limitation on liability similarly does not apply if the responsible party fails or refuses to (i) report the incident as required by law where the responsible party knows or has reason to know of the incident; (ii) reasonably cooperate and assist as requested in connection with oil removal activities; or (iii) without sufficient cause, comply with an order issued under the Federal Water Pollution Act (Section 311 (c), (e)) or the Intervention on the High Seas Act.
CERCLA applies to spills or releases of hazardous substances other than petroleum or petroleum products whether on land or at sea. CERCLA contains a similar liability regime to OPA and imposes joint and several liability, without regard to fault, on the owner or operator of a vessel, vehicle or facility from which there has been a release, along with other specified parties. Costs recoverable under CERCLA include cleanup, removal and remediation, as well as damages to injury to, or destruction or loss of, natural resources, including the reasonable costs associated with assessing the same, health assessments or health effects studies and governmental oversight costs. Liability under CERCLA is limited to the greater of $300 per gross ton or $5.0 million for vessels carrying any hazardous substances, such as cargo or residue, or the greater of $300 per gross ton or $0.5 million for any other vessel, per release of or incident involving hazardous substances. These limits of liability do not apply (rendering the responsible person liable for the total cost of response and damages) if the release or threat of release of a hazardous substance resulted is caused by gross negligence, willful misconduct or a violation of certain regulations, in which case liability is unlimited.
OPA 90 and CERCLA each preserves the right to recover damages under other existing laws, including maritime tort law. OPA 90 also contains statutory caps on liability and damages, which do not apply to direct clean-up costs. All owners and operators of vessels over 300 gross tons are required to establish and maintain with the U.S. Coast Guard evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to meet their potential liabilities under OPA 90 and CERCLA. Under the U.S. Coast Guard regulations, vessel owners and operators may evidence their financial responsibility by providing proof of insurance, surety bond, guarantee, letter of credit or self-insurance. An owner or operator of a fleet of vessels is required only to demonstrate evidence of financial responsibility in an amount sufficient to cover the vessel in the fleet having the greatest maximum liability under OPA 90 and CERCLA. Under the self-insurance provisions, the vessel owner or operator must have a net worth and working capital that exceeds the applicable amount of financial responsibility, measured in assets located in the United States against liabilities located anywhere in the world. We have received certificates of financial responsibility from the U.S. Coast Guard for each of the vessels in our fleet that calls U.S. waters.
OPA 90 specifically permits individual states to impose their own liability regimes with regard to oil pollution incidents occurring within their boundaries, provided they accept, at a minimum, the levels of liability established under OPA, and some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for oil spills. Many U.S. states that border a navigable waterway have enacted environmental pollution laws that impose strict liability on a person for removal costs and damages resulting from a discharge of oil or a release of a hazardous substance. These laws may be more stringent than U.S. federal law. In some cases, states which have enacted such legislation have not yet issued implementing regulations defining vessels owners’ responsibilities under these laws. We believe we are currently in compliance with all applicable state regulations in the ports where our vessels call.
For each of our vessels, we maintain oil pollution liability coverage insurance in the amount of $1 billion per vessel per incident. In addition, we carry hull and machinery and P&I insurance to cover the various risks of fire and explosion. Although our vessels only carry bunker fuel, a spill of oil from one of our vessels could be catastrophic under certain circumstances. Losses as a result of fire or explosion could also be catastrophic under some conditions. While we believe that our present insurance coverage is adequate, not all risks can be insured, and if the damages from a catastrophic spill exceeded our insurance coverage, the payment of those damages could have an adverse effect on our business or the results of our operations.
For additional information about our insurance policies, see “— Risk of loss and liability insurance.”
Title VII of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004, or CGMTA, amended OPA 90 to require the owner or operator of any non-tank vessel of 400 gross tons or more that carries oil of any kind as a fuel for main propulsion, including bunker fuel, to prepare and submit a response plan for each vessel. These vessel response plans include detailed information on actions to be taken by vessel personnel to prevent or mitigate any discharge or substantial threat of such a discharge of oil from the vessel due to operational activities or casualties. Each of the vessels in our fleet that calls U.S. waters has an approved response plan.
Other United States environmental initiatives
The CWA prohibits the discharge of oil, hazardous substances and ballast water in U.S. navigable waters, unless authorized by a duly-issued permit or exemption, and imposes strict liability in the form of penalties for any unauthorized discharges. The CWA also imposes substantial liability for the costs of removal, remediation and damages and complements the remedies available under the more recently enacted OPA 90 and CERCLA, discussed above. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, regulates the discharge of ballast water and other substances under the CWA. EPA regulations require vessels 79 feet in length or longer (other than commercial fishing vessels) to obtain coverage under a Vessel General Permit, or VGP, authorizing discharges of ballast waters and other wastewaters incidental to the operation of vessels when operating within the three-mile territorial waters or inland waters of the United States. The VGP requires vessel owners and operators to comply with a range of best management practices and reporting and other requirements for a number of incidental discharge types. The EPA regulates these discharges pursuant to VIDA, which was signed into law on December 4, 2018 and replaces the 2013 VGP program (which authorizes discharges incidental to operations of commercial vessels and contains numeric ballast water discharge limits for most vessels to reduce the risk of invasive species in U.S. waters, stringent requirements for exhaust gas scrubbers, and requirements for the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants) and current Coast Guard ballast water management regulations adopted under NISA, such as mid-ocean ballast exchange programs and installation of approved U.S. Coast Guard technology for all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks bound for U.S. ports or entering U.S. waters. VIDA establishes a new framework for the regulation of vessel incidental discharges under the CWA, requires the EPA to develop performance standards for those discharges within two years of enactment, and requires the U.S. Coast Guard to develop implementation, compliance, and enforcement regulations within two years of EPA’s promulgation of standards. Under VIDA, all provisions of the 2013 VGP and U.S. Coast Guard regulations regarding ballast water treatment remain in force and effect until the EPA and U.S. Coast Guard regulations are finalized. We have obtained coverage under the current version of the VGP for all of our vessels that call U.S. waters. We do not believe that any material costs associated with meeting the requirements under the VGP will be material.
In 2015, the EPA expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), thereby expanding federal authority under the CWA. Following litigation on the revised WOTUS rule, in December 2018, the EPA and Department of the Army proposed a revised, limited definition of “waters of the United States.” The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on February 14, 2019, and was subject to public comment. On October 22, 2019, the agencies published a final rule repealing the 2015 Rule. The final rule became effective on December 23, 2019. On January 23, 2020, the EPA published the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” which replaces the rule published on October 22, 2019, and redefines “waters of the United States.” This rule, although already in effect, is currently subject to litigation challenges and its impact is therefore uncertain.
U.S. Coast Guard regulations adopted under NISA also impose mandatory ballast water management practices for all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks entering or operating in U.S. waters. Amendments to these regulations that became effective in June 2012 established maximum acceptable discharge limits for various invasive species and/or requirements for active treatment of ballast water. The U.S. Coast Guard ballast water standards are consistent with requirements under the BWM Convention.
The EPA has adopted standards under the CAA that pertain to emissions of volatile organic compounds and other air contaminants. Our vessels are subject to vapor control and recovery requirements for certain cargoes when loading, unloading, ballasting, cleaning and conducting other operations in regulated port areas. The CAA also requires states to draft State Implementation Plans, or SIPs, designed to attain national health-based air quality standards in each state. Although state-specific, SIPs may include regulations concerning emissions resulting from vessel loading and unloading operations by requiring the installation of vapor control equipment. If new or more stringent regulations relating to emissions from marine diesel engines or port operations by ocean-going vessels are adopted by the EPA or states, these requirements could require significant capital expenditures or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.
European Union requirements
The European Union has also adopted legislation that (1) requires member states to refuse access to their ports to certain sub-standard vessels, according to vessel type, flag and number of previous detentions, (2) obliges member states to inspect at least 25% of foreign vessels using their ports annually and provides for increased surveillance of vessels posing a high risk to maritime safety or the marine environment, (3) provides the European Union with greater authority and control over classification societies, including the ability to seek to suspend or revoke the authority of negligent societies and (4) requires member states to impose criminal sanctions for certain pollution events, such as the unauthorized discharge of tank washings, and including minor discharges, if committed with intent, recklessly or with serious negligence and the discharges individually or in the aggregate result in deterioration of the quality of water.
Regulation (EU) 2015/757 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 (amending EU Directive 2009/16/EC) governs the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport, and, subject to some exclusions, requires companies with ships over 5,000 gross tonnage to monitor and report carbon dioxide emissions annually, which may cause us to incur additional expenses.
Furthermore, the EU has implemented regulations requiring vessels to use reduced sulfur content fuel for their main and auxiliary engines. The EU Directive 2005/33/EC (amending Directive 1999/32/EC) introduced requirements parallel to those in Annex VI relating to the sulfur content of marine fuels. In addition, the EU imposed a 0.1% maximum sulfur requirement for fuel used by ships at berth in the Baltic, the North Sea and the English Channel (the so-called Sox-Emission Control Area). As of January 2020, EU member states must also ensure that ships in all EU waters, except the SOx-Emission Control Area, use fuels with a 0.5% maximum sulfur content.
Other regional requirements
The environmental protection regimes in certain other countries, such as Canada, resemble those of the United States. To the extent we operate in the territorial waters of such countries or enter their ports, our vessels would typically be subject to the requirements and liabilities imposed in such countries. Other regions of the world also have the ability to adopt requirements or regulations that may impose additional obligations on our vessels and may entail significant expenditures on our part and may increase the costs of our operations. These requirements, however, would apply to the industry operating in those regions as a whole and would also affect our competitors.
We are also subject to Israeli regulation regarding, among other things, national security and the mandatory provision of our fleet, environmental and sea pollution, and the Israeli Shipping Law (Seamen) of 1973, which regulates matters concerning seamen, and the terms of their eligibility and work procedures.
Greenhouse gas regulation
Currently, emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force in 2005 and pursuant to which adopting countries have been required to implement national programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with targets extended through 2020. International negotiations are continuing with respect to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, and restrictions on shipping emissions may be included in any new treaty. In December 2009, more than 27 nations, including the U.S. and China, signed the Copenhagen Accord, which includes a non-binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris resulted in the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016 and does not directly limit greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The U.S. initially entered into the agreement, but in June 2017, the U.S. President announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which withdrawal became effective on November 4, 2020. On February 19, 2021, the U.S. officially rejoined the Paris Agreement. The Glasgow Climate Change Conference held between October and November 2021 with the participation of nearly 200 country leaders reiterated countries' commitment to bringing down emissions and finalized guidelines for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.
International or multinational bodies or individual countries or jurisdictions may adopt climate change initiatives. For example, in June 2020 the UN's Climate Ambition Alliance (CAA) has launched a global campaign aiming for net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, rallying both governments as well as businesses. The U.S. Congress has from time to time considered adopting legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and almost one-half of the states have already taken legal measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions primarily through the planned development of greenhouse gas emission inventories and/or regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade programs. Most cap-and-trade programs require major sources of emissions, such as electric power plants, and major producers of fuels, such as refineries and gas processing plants, to acquire or surrender emission allowances that correspond to their annual greenhouse gas emissions. The number of allowances available for purchase is reduced each year in an effort to achieve the overall greenhouse gas emission reduction goal. The adoption of legislation or regulatory programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, if and to the extent applicable to us, could increase our operating costs.
At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, a draft outline of the structure of the initial strategy for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships was approved. In accordance with this roadmap, in April 2018, nations at the MEPC 72 adopted an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The initial strategy identifies “levels of ambition” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including (1) decreasing the carbon intensity from ships through implementation of further phases of the Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships; (2) reducing carbon dioxide emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 emission levels; and (3) reducing the total annual greenhouse emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 while pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. The initial strategy notes that technological innovation, alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the overall ambition. These regulations could cause us to incur additional substantial expenses. We have implemented various optimization strategies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including long term chartering LNG dual fuel vessels, operating vessels in "super slow steaming" mode, trim optimization, hull and propeller polishing and sailing route optimization.
The member states of the EU made a unilateral commitment to reduce by 2020 their 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. The EU also committed to reduce its emissions by 20% under the Kyoto Protocol’s second period from 2013 to 2020. Starting in January 2018, large ships over 5,000 gross tonnage calling at EU ports are required to collect and publish data on carbon dioxide emissions and other information. In the U.S., the EPA has adopted regulations under the CAA to limit greenhouse gas emissions from certain mobile sources, and has issued standards designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions from both new and existing power plants and other stationary sources.
The EPA or individual U.S. states could enact environmental regulations that would affect our operations. Any passage of climate control legislation or other regulatory initiatives by the IMO, the EU, the U.S. or other countries where we operate, or any treaty adopted at the international level to succeed the Kyoto Protocol or Paris Agreement that restricts emissions of greenhouse gases could require us to make significant financial expenditures which we cannot predict with certainty at this time. Even in the absence of climate control legislation and regulations, our business and operations may be materially affected to the extent that climate change results in sea level changes and more frequent and intense weather events.
Occupational safety and health regulations
The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, or MLC, consolidated most of the 70 existing International Labour Organization maritime labor instruments in a single modern, globally applicable, legal instrument, and became effective on August 20, 2013. The MLC establishes comprehensive minimum requirements for working conditions of seafarers including, conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, grievance and complaints procedures, accommodations, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection. The MLC also provides a new definition of seafarer that now includes all persons engaged in work on a vessel in addition to the vessel’s crew. Under the new definition, we may be responsible for proving that customer and contractor personnel aboard our vessels have contracts of employment that comply with the MLC requirements. We could also be responsible for salaries and/or benefits of third parties that board one of our vessels. The MLC requires certain vessels that engage in international trade to maintain a valid Maritime Labour Certificate issued by their flag administration. We have developed and implemented a fleet-wide action plan to comply with the MLC to the extent applicable to our vessels.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significant impacts on the shipping industry and on seafarers themselves. Travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world have created significant hurdles to crew changes and repatriation of seafarers, which has led to a growing humanitarian crisis as well as significant concerns for the safety of seafarers and shipping. IMO has urged its members states to designate seafarers as key workers, so they can travel between the ships that constitute their workplace, and their countries of residence. Countries and port implemented strict COVID-19 requirements which affects ships operations and crew changes.
Vessel security regulations
A number of initiatives have been introduced in recent years intended to enhance vessel security. On November 25, 2002, the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, or MTSA, was signed into law. To implement certain portions of the MTSA, the U.S. Coast Guard issued regulations in July 2003 requiring the implementation of certain security requirements aboard vessels operating in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Similarly, in December 2002, amendments to SOLAS created a new chapter of the convention dealing specifically with maritime security. This new chapter came into effect in July 2004 and imposes various detailed security obligations on vessels and port authorities, most of which are contained in the ISPS Code. Among the various requirements are:
|●||on-board installation of automatic information systems to enhance vessel-to-vessel and vessel-to-shore communications;|
|●||on-board installation of ship security alert systems;|
|●||the development of ship security plans; and|
|●||compliance with flag state security cer|