Emanuele Grimaldi is stepping down as chief executive of Finnlines, the Baltic ro-ro and passenger ferry company that he has run for nine years.

The Italian shipowner will be replaced at the Grimaldi Group-controlled company by fellow Finnlines executive member Tom Pippingskold.

Grimaldi will remain as chairman of the Helsinki-based operation, where he is taking over from long-time chairman Jon-Aksel Torgesen.

Thomas Doepel, currently chief operating officer at Finnlines, will take on a new role as vice president and deputy chief executive.

The move marks a new era at Finnlines, where Grimaldi took over as CEO in 2013.

The company said he has helped to “transform Finnlines into a successful and efficient maritime operator”.

On 5 May, Finnlines reported a 14% rise in profit to €15.1m ($15.9m) in the first quarter of the year, while revenue was up 27% to €157m over the period.

Volumes remained relatively steady, but the company expressed fears that the war in Ukraine could lead to a slowdown in the Finnish economy.

“We have stopped our vessels operating to and from Russia along with the EU [European Union] sanctions,” Grimaldi said.

“The Russian traffic does not represent a meaningful share of our turnover, but it has complemented well our other lines.

“The volumes on each of our other lines we operate have increased in Q1 and positive cargo development is expected to continue.”

Vessel swaps

Grimaldi also revealed that Finnlines had sold one ropax and was buying another in deals involving the parent company.

Finnlines has sold the 34,000-gt Finnclipper (built 1999) to the Naples-based Grimaldi Group.

However, Finnlines will soon purchase the 10,144-gt ropax Vizzavona (built 1999) from its parent company as a replacement.

Another chartered ro-ro vessel — the 29,429-gt Eurocargo Savona (built 2011) — was returned to Grimaldi Group in mid-March.

“The Grimaldi Group’s and Finnlines’ ability to switch ro-ro and ropax vessels between the Mediterranean and Baltic Sea increases our capacity to provide services to our customers when needed and flexibility in our network when planning capacity,” Grimaldi said.

The 60,515-gt ro-ro vessels Finneco I was delivered from Jinling Shipyard in Nanjing on 28 April. Two other vessels in the series are to follow. Photo: Finnlines

Finnlines is currently in the process of building a series of modern ropaxes in a €500m newbuilding programme.

The 60,515-gt ro-ro vessel Finneco I was delivered from Jinling Shipyard in Nanjing on 28 April.

Vessel numbers two and three — the Finneco II and Finneco III — will follow later this year.

They will operate in Finnlines’ Baltic Sea, North Sea and Biscay services.