Foresight chiefs in top form at 2018 industry barbecue

Anniversaries, Company Profiles, Events, Food and Drink, People and Places, Person Profiles — By on January 21, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Dr and Mrs Mehrotra welcomed old friends.

Foresight chiefs in top form at 2018 industry barbecue

Dr Ravi Kumar Mehrotra, CBE, irrepressible executive chairman of Foresight Ltd, and fellow director Mrs Mehrotra, extended a warm welcome to some 450 guests invited to the company’s annual BBQ, a highlight of the London shipping industry calendar.

The warmth generated by the hospitality and efficient heating systems inside a giant marquee in the grounds of the Mehrotra family’s West London home contrasted with the chill of the raw evening, making January 19, 2018, a night to remember as colleagues and friends from all sides of the industry renewed acquaintance.

John Wishart with Kitack Lim.

A degree of cautious optimism about prospects for the ever shape-shifting maritime sector permeated the conversation, which was buoyed by generous servings of champagne, wine and juices and hors d’oeuvres ahead of the traditional choice of sumptuous vegetarian or grill buffets.

Dr Mehrotra referred to the adaptation over the years of his own enterprise to changing patterns of business and global trade in shipping and offshore. It is more than half a century since he began his career with the Shipping Corporation of India, going on to help found the Irano-Hind Shipping Co in Tehran, then advising the revolutionary government on shipping, before founding his own Foresight group in London in 1984.

John Gauci-Maistre of GM Economicard Group, Kitack Lim and Jennifer Kopernicki.

Dr Mehrotra said that chief executive Richard Sadler had retired, having done a very good job of restructuring the group, locating the ultimate holding company in Mauritius, and choosing Dubai as its main operating office.

Although Foresight’s origins were in shipping, for the past 30 years it has put much effort into building an international drilling capability with expertise in handling complex offshore projects and exploration. Annualised rig uptimes of more than 99% are claimed. The Dubai base is seen as a pivotal  centre for Foresight Offshore Drilling, which is part of its support for the oil and gas market of India and the Middle East, where it has won impressive contracts.

Jan and Jennifer Kopernicki.

With its shipping, offshore and several other interests, the group is said to be worth a total of some $1.5bn.

The ebullient Foresight chairman hinted, before passing the baton to other guest speakers, that further changes lay ahead in the next couple of years.

Kitack Lim, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization, expressed thanks on behalf of the guests and said that he detected signs of a recovery in the shipping market by surveying the atmosphere among those present.  This might have been a little tongue-in-cheek, for his reasons for the “positive impression” concerned the greater number of guests than a year earlier, the observation that “the faces of the distinguished guests look much brighter” and company anniversary celebrations ahead.

Ravi Mehrotra and Kitack Lim at the mic.

Mr Lim underlined the IMO message that environmental sustainability was vital for the success of the shipping industry.

On a separate ‘green’ theme, Dr Mehrotra is among industrialists who have pledged under an Indian government initiative to help rejuvenate the banks of the Ganges. He will take responsibility for the Kanpur section of the mighty river, while Anil Agarwal who is head of mining group Vedanta will lead efforts to improve the state of the Patna riverfront.

The chairman with High Commissioner Yashvardhan Sinha.

After Dr Mehrotra urged Yashvardhan Sinha, high commissioner for India to the UK since September 2016, to talk about what India was doing for shipping, the veteran diplomat countered: “If I start on that, there will be no dinner [tonight] and you will have to wait for breakfast… there is so much happening in India I would suggest those who have not been, go to India to see for yourselves.”

John Wishart.

John Wishart, who has been on board Foresight for a relatively short time as operating officer, said that 2017 was a fairly rough year for the shipping industry in general, but there were signs that 2018 would be better.

A chartered engineer, Mr Wishart was previously group energy director for Lloyd’s Register, having joined the classification and services society in December 2011 from surveyors GL Noble Denton, where he was group president. He is credited with having driven the growth and diversification of the energy business at Lloyd’s Register, establishing its global technology centre in Singapore and overseeing the acquisitions and integration of Reltech, West Engineering and Senergy.

Sean Maloney of SMI and Maria Dixon of ISM Shipping Solutions.

Accompanied by his wife Jennifer, Jan Kopernicki was among those present who have fulfilled many roles in the maritime world. He is now a non-executive director of J & J Denholm of Glasgow, having for many years been head of shipping at Royal-Dutch Shell, and among many other appointments a president of the UK Chamber of Shipping and chairman of Maritime UK.

An honorary captain in the Royal Naval Reserve, Mr Kopernicki said he was present at the event to provide support for his Navy friends – a connection emphasised by the naval guard of honour that greeted guests as they entered the reception.

Press gang: Namrata Nadkarni, Tanya Blake, Sharon Owen, and Bob Jaques.

Dr. Nikos Mikelis from  GMS was as ever present with his wife as did Radm. (Rt. HCG) Thimios E. Mitropoulos, Secretary-general  Emeritus of the IMO –  now Chairman at the Maria Tsakos Foundation, with his wife Chantal; Lambros Varnavides from Lloyd’s Register’s Foundation was there too and his wife. Alastair  Marsh Lloyd’s Register’s CEO, Joanna Pohorski, UK & Ireland Area Manager, Marine & Offshore also from Lloyd’s Register, Dr. Kirsi Tikka  Executive Vice President, Global Marine and Gillian Smyth both from the American Bureau of Shipping and John  Kalogeras from Bureau Veritas’ London office  completing the Class Societies representatives. Moore Stephens’ Richard Greiner as well as Peter French, former head at SMI were also present….

The Cypriots were led by Argyris Madella, the alternate permanent representative to the IMO and Nikolaos A. Charalambous, both with their wives.

Inge Mitchell surrounded by friends

Inge Mitchell gave again a brave presence in a wheel chair chatting with Maria Dixon – in full force with  her husband Paul, daughter Stephanie with her husband Kris Shaw; in the same group another couple who don’t miss the event, Sue Terpilowski of Image Line and president of WISTA-UK with her husband Tom Waters. Another couple which is always present  is shipbroker Wendell Abraham and his charming wife. Dr. Peter Swift, Captain Roger Holt, Michael Everard and Nigel Cleave, former CEO at Videotel were there too.

Good to meet new people; Nigel Ward from Berwin Leighton Paisner, Mark O’ Neil from Columbia Shipmanagement in Cyprus, Matthias Happich, senior vice president at HSH Nordbank in Hamburg, Angus Frew, BIMCO’s Secretary General and CEO, Greg U. Ogbeifun, president of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Bob Tarrant – who as Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy assumed  EUNAVFOR operational command and his wife; and the very eloquent journalist and writer Heidi Kingstone – among others known from her book “Dispatches from the Kabul Cafe”…

l to r: Maria Symeonaki, Maria Syllingnaki, Anny Zade, Tenia Koroneou, Kostas Amarantides, Stavriana Asprogiannidou and Kostas Ladas

The Greeks were once again led by Radm (Rt. HCG) Kostas Amarantides, director of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee with his wife Tenia Koroneou from the Shipping Attache Office at the Greek Embassy and Maria Syllignaki also from the GSCC. Stavriana  Asprogiannidou, marine broker at Willis Towers Watson was there too as did Kostas Ladas from LISCR London and banker Aggeliki Koutoulia, executive director at Julius Baer in Luxembourg. Yiota Gousas from RS Platou in Athens managed to make it again expressing some serious views on the state of the dry and wet markets…

Frances Baskerville, the secretary-general of CIRM was there too – she never ever misses the event, being …on par with arbitrator Ken Maclean. John Gauci-Maestre full of smiles with his wife Anne; the CEO of GM Economicard in Malta can be voted as the ever present shipping man on all such international social events all over Planet Ocean… Good to see Janos Koening, the managing director from Eurofin International Ltd, Mr. Posidonia …err Themis Vokos and his wife talking about the forthcoming Posidonia …and his 11 grandchildren!

Guests listening Dr. Ravi Mehrotra’s speech

Gerard Kenny,  the technical director from LISCR was there in a jovial mood  as did Dr. John M. Doviak, director at the Cambridge Academy of Transport with his wife Hilary, Peter Cowling and Les Chapman now with the  Maritime & Coastguard Agency in the vital role of Secretary of State’s Representative (SOSRep).

Press and media guests included Sean Maloney editorial director of Ship Management International and inspirer of London International Shipping Weeks, freelance Sandra Speares, Namrata Nadkarni deputy executive editor of Fairplay, Sharon Owen subscription account specialist maritime at IHS Markit, Tanya Blake who is editor of Safety at Sea, Max Tingyao Lin markets editor at Lloyd’s List, Adam Corbett London correspondent at TradeWinds and Bob Jaques editor of Seatrade Maritime Review.

Jim and Hanny Davis, James Brewer and Anny Zade

Everyone was delighted to see Jim Davis, former chairman of the International Maritime Industries Forum, and his wife Hanny.  Mr Davis, entering his ninth decade, has stepped back from most of his formal roles but still makes a good showing, in his ever cheery and charming persona, at maritime events.  Since his departure from active leadership of IMIF, whose reputation he burnished for over 40 years, it has been announced that the forum is to merge with Maritime London.

Fruitful event.

Foresight’s diversified operations stretch to footwear manufacturing, brand retailing, hospitality, training and education. It has a strong presence in India, China, the Gulf region, Middle East and Far East.

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