Global Ship Lease has announced that Ian Webber has decided to retire as chief executive.

The New York-listed company also said chief commercial officer Thomas Lister will step into the top job at the end of March.

Webber, who has been chief executive of the container ship owner since it was founded in 2007 and listed on the New York Stock Exchange the following year, is not saying goodbye. He will be joining GSL’s board of directors.

“Over the last 16 years as CEO of Global Ship Lease, Ian oversaw the company’s listing on the NYSE in 2008, guided it safely through the most challenging period the containership industry has ever experienced and was fully committed to ensuring that the transformative merger with Poseidon Containers in 2018 was a success,” executive chairman George Youroukos.

“Global Ship Lease has become a larger, stronger and more valuable company on his watch.”

Lister has also been at GSL since the beginning, serving in a number of roles but holding his current title since the company went public in August 2008.

He served for a year as chief financial officer at a crucial time leading up to a merger with Poseidon Containers.

And Lister has been in charge of decarbonisation initiatives since 2019.

“Tom not only knows the company inside and out, but also has deep expertise across our industry, having started his career in liner shipping before moving into banking, asset finance, and ship leasing,” Youroukos said.

“He has led our strategic and commercial response to the growing pressures on the industry to decarbonise and is very well-qualified to take Global Ship Lease forward at this time of increasingly rapid change.”

Lister said he is confident that the transition will be smooth.

“The industry is at an inflection point, which will present both challenges to address and opportunities for the company to embrace,” he said.

“With the support of our excellent teams at sea, on shore, and in the boardroom, this is an exciting time to be taking the reins at Global Ship Lease.”