he German Meyer family’s shipbuilding company and the Finnish State acquired Turku shipyard from STX Europe in September 2014. With its 70 percent ownership, Meyer Werft carries the main responsibility for the shipyard’s operations and its further development. Finnish Industry Investment, owned by the State of Finland, acquired a 30-percent stake in the new Meyer Turku Oy.
“Turku shipyard’s transfer to new ownership was the best economic news in Finland in 2014. The shipyard employs directly 1,400 people and more than 10,000 people through the supporting infrastructure,” says Lauri Ratia, a board professional and one of the forces behind the acquisition. Ratia is a member of Meyer Turku Oy’s Board of Directors.
With the committed and financially sound owners, the outlook is now promising for shipbuilders in Turku. TUI Cruises has placed an order with Turku shipyard for two cruise ships worth nearly one billion euros, and Ratia is confident that more orders will follow. The company has also started to recruit more specialists.
Meyer Turku Oy’s CEO Jan Meyer emphasises that know-how is the most important component of competitiveness.
“The process from design to manufacturing requires creativity that cannot be found from shipyards specialising in standard production. When building special-purpose vessels and cruise ships the supplier network must also function smoothly.” Meyer says.
“By developing our operating methods, we will increase our productivity both in Germany and in Finland. We found a number of similarities and differences in the way we build our ships when comparing Turku and Papenburg. As we learn from each other we can make the ship yards more competitive. I am very happy to see that this is embraced by both sides.”
The shipyard employs directly 1,400 people and more than 10,000 people through the supporting infrastructure.”
The acquisition of Turku shipyard was a process of many stages in which Lauri Ratia had an important role.
“In June 2013, I was invited to join STX Finland’s Board of Directors by two investors, Nordea and Finnvera. From the national perspective as well, it was important to determine the requisites for the shipyard company to continue its operations,” Ratia says.
At Ratia’s initiative, STX Finland hired Roland Berger Strategy Consultants to draft a strategy for change. The strategy noted that the cruise ship markets would offer Turku shipyard good opportunities to continue its operations as a vital unit if more capital were arranged.
“In the process of finding a new owner, Meyer Werft became the lead candidate which wanted the Finnish State to participate in the preliminary negotiations.”
At that point, the South Korean STX Group still had not made a final decision about the future of its European shipyards. As a result of persistent negotiations a preliminary offer to purchase Turku shipyard was submitted at the end of May. The transaction was closed in September.
“After complex phases, we found with Finland’s Ministry of Employment and the Economy and Finnish Industry Investment the best possible solution for STX, for Meyer Werft and for Finland’s maritime industry. This was a result of excellent teamwork,” says Ratia.