Cosco-owned Orient Overseas (International) Limited (OOIL) has appointed Chen Yangfan as chief executive.

Chen is taking over the top slot from Huang Xiaowen, who is stepping down as a member of the executive committee of the Hong Kong-listed company.

Huang is retiring, but there were no disagreements between the board, the company said.

His replacement, Chen, is a 47-year-old engineer. He has held the position of deputy general manager of China Cosco Shipping since November 2021.

Chen is listed with 25 years of experience in IT, internet and digital operation management.

He graduated from the University of Essex in the UK with a master’s degree in telecommunications and information systems.

Chen will take over from immediate effect for a three-year term.

The appointments come at a challenging time for OOIL, which is 71% owned by Cosco Shipping Holdings and is the parent company of Orient Overseas Container Line.

In August, OOIL posted an 80% year-on-year decline in 2023 first-half profit to $1.1bn versus the $5.6bn seen a year earlier.

The shipowner looked to play down the positive market sentiment of recent weeks, saying that the conflicting positive and negative signals that have made forecasting so difficult in the past 12 to 24 months remain firmly in place.

OOCL recently took delivery of the OOCL Gdynia, the sixth in a series of 12 newbuildings of 24,188 teu each under construction at Dalian Cosco KHI Ship Engineering (Dacks).