It was farewell to Paddy Rodgers the tanker industry executive and hello to Paddy Rodgers the museum curator last week, as Euronav marked 15 years as a public listed company.
Rodgers, who stepped down as Euronav chief executive earlier this year, hosted an event to mark the anniversary on the historic tall ship Cutty Sark in London.
Around 200 guests were ferried down the Thames from central London on a chartered riverboat and entertained on the famous vessel, which is part of the Royal Museums Greenwich complex, where Rodgers was unveiled earlier this month as the surprise choice for its next director.
Rodgers’ 23-year career with Euronav started when he was asked to use his legal skills to draft the merger agreement to create the company.
“I was asked to stay on, on the basis that it would only be a couple of years,” he told the audience. "It seems the old adage is true: it is easier to get into shipping than to get out."
Since that point, when it started with equity of around $75m and a balance sheet of $350m, Euronav has grown hugely.
Listed in 2004 on Euronext with an enterprise value of about $1bn, it now has a secondary listing in the US “and today Euronav’s enterprise value looks more like $4bn and equity or market capitalisation of about half of that”, Rodgers said.
But he also admitted public markets can be hard taskmasters.
“Our share price might disappoint, as it might from time to time in a cyclical business, but we have a large young fleet," he said. "Euronav has been an outstanding success, and it’s with great pride we celebrate 15 years as a public company.”
Rodgers stressed Euronav's human values had also seen it socialise its capital by pooling and joint ventures.
"It was not only in our interests, but also optimised that of our partners," he said. "In the kindergarten that is shipping, Euronav is the child that plays well with others."
His successor as chief executive, Hugo De Stoop, heaped praise on Rodgers on behalf of the firm’s staff.
“I want to thank you from the bottom of our heart for the outstanding contribution to this company, and to the world of shipping," he said.
“One of the key success factors has been the key values you have disseminated within Euronav. These values are part of our DNA and will not go away.”
“We believe we are here to build a better world for the future, to take care of people, take care of the environment, and always be an outstanding corporate citizen.”
Earlier, drawing parallels between the history of the Cutty Sark and the future of shipping, Rodgers cited Plato, Bob Marley and Joseph Conrad among others.
His one barb was directed at two well-lubricated old shipbroker friends, who he observed clearly had not seen the crew discipline regulations on the 19th century tea clipper.
“[They] didn’t read Rule Number 9: Drunkenness — First offence, two days half allowance of provisions.”