Synergy Group chief executive Rajesh Unni has explained how Maersk Tankers' brand and expertise attracted his company to a takeover of the Danish shipowner's technical management business.

Singapore-based Synergy is taking over 3,300 workers, the technical oversight of 82 product tankers and all contracts for an undisclosed price.

But such a transaction was not on the company's radar before Maersk Tankers decided to seek a buyer.

Synergy founder Unni told TradeWinds: "Before this, honestly we never thought about it."

The group was only interested in finding a partner who was "better than us".

Unni said deprecatingly: "Typically, I like to surround myself with people much smarter than me, which is not a big challenge anyway."

A strong start to expansion

"This may be a good place to start. We're constantly finding ways to improve ourselves.

"With Maersk's rich history and culture, it was a unique opportunity for us to also learn and become better."

Unni added that many people aspire to work for the Danish group.

"Maersk is known to be one of the best operators," he said. "Some of the oil majors I spoke to were so excited because they felt [Maersk Tankers] represented the top-tier brand of ship management."

The sales process took more than a year.

"There were a few [other managers] shortlisted and we finally made the cut," Unni said.

He added that no debt will be taken on for the acquisition.

Investment and expertise

Synergy is taking over technical management of the Maersk Tankers fleet. Photo: Maersk Tankers

He also revealed other factors that attracted Synergy were the diversity of Maersk's talent pool and the amount of investment the company has made into processes and advances in technology.

The deal is a significant one for Synergy, adding the Maersk fleet to 440 ships that are already under technical management.

"What we are hoping is that we can create something much, much more powerful," Unni said.

"You have that legacy, process and culture in Maersk and the new generation of transformative drive within Synergy."

The deal should close in a month's time, but Unni argues that it will require more than two to three months to really unlock the value.

As for further expansion, the Synergy boss said: "What we want to do is execute this well first. I'm sure everyone is watching us very, very closely given the buzz it's created."

One step at a time

And he added: "If we then come out on the other side and say, 'OK, we've now got a handle on how to do this well', then we will look at the next opportunity that comes."

But Unni will not pursue growth blindly. He believes consolidation is pointless if it just means adding ship numbers and working in the same ways as before.

"Consolidation will help if we deliver services very differently, if we are prepared to challenge the status quo," he said.

Partnerships can also help develop new business models and taker bigger steps towards decarbonisation and digital transformation, Unni explained.

"If these are the cornerstones of your vision, then consolidation makes sense," he said. "If your vision is just to make more money from more ships I am not a big fan of that."