China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co. Group announced Monday that chairman Wei Jaifu has retired and that Ma Zehua, the president of the company, will take his place.
A brief announcement also said Li Yunpeng has been named a director of the board and the president of COSCO Group. It added that Wei Jiafu has retired and no longer holds any position in the company.
Wei, 63, became president of COSCO in 1998, and had served over 40 years in the industry.
The maritime publisher SinoShip News
had said last week his retirement was expected soon.
While best known in the United States for its container services, COSCO is a huge global company operating all sorts of ships - dry bulk, breakbulk tanker, roll-on/roll-off, heavylift and even passenger vessels. Other arms of the company are in the terminal business, building ships and containers, and operating logistics businesses.
China COSCO Holding Co. Ltd. had a 8.1 billion yuan RMB ($1.3 billion) loss in 2012 on revenue of 88.3 billion yuan ($14.4 billion).
In a profile appearing in SinoShip
, Wei said his proudest accomplishment was moving COSCO from a state-owned company to a collection of publicly listed companies.
Howard Finkel, an executive vice president at COSCO Container Lines, said Wei “oversaw COSCO, especially COSCO Americas going through some extremely dynamic changes. He made us a world-class carrier. He was at the helm when most of this was happening.”
Finkel was hired by and worked for Ma, who was president of COSCO Americas in the late 1990s.
Ma "also was also responsible for a lot of the changes at COSCO and a very dynamic guy himself,” said Finkel. He said shippers should see continuity under his leadership. “He is a very commercially savvy guy. He has been in the trenches and knows a lot of the accounts. I think the transition should be extremely easy.”
While COSCO is still considered a “controlled carrier” by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (http://www.fmc.gov/about/controlled_carrier_list.aspx
) and subject to rate review standards to ensure it does not unfairly use its government-supported position against competitors.
Despite that status, Finkel said Wei helped COSCO expand in the United States and was a familiar figure in Washington at both the FMC and U.S. Maritime Administration.
A good English speaker, Wei is a charismatic figure who displays optimism, humor and energy when he speaks. Finkel said he didn’t know Wei’s plans, but “I can’t imagine him sitting back and doing nothing—he is one of the most dynamic people I have ever met in my life.”
said one of Wei’s major accomplishments was expanding COSCO services to the United States and cited its startup of service to Boston in 2002 as a "breakthrough."
At an event marking the 10th anniversary of COSCO service to Boston last year, David Mackey, then the interim CEO of the Massachusetts Port Authority, said service was responsible for a turnaround at the port and brought greater prosperity to New England states.
That service is one of the CKYH Alliances to the United States, which was also formed by COSCO, “K” Line, Yang Ming and Hanjin during Wei’s tenure at the company. - Chris Dupin