– This is a great day for the Turku shipyard, the city of Turku, and indeed, for the whole Finnish manufacturing. We announced the joint acquisition of Turku Shipyard with Meyer Werft from STX Europe on 4th August. We had a very positive message at that time, and I am happy to be here today to confirm the good news.
– As we have heard, the competition authorities in Germany have now given their green light for the transaction. In addition, negotiations on the financing of the construction of the new vessels have led to a positive conclusion. This means not only that the yard has a new world-class owner, but it also has a solid order book (consisting of two sister vessels for TUI-cruise ships with two additional option vessels) to continue building ships.
– All this means that the Turku shipyard now has a chance to survive, also in the long term. This also means that we have an opportunity to ensure that the world-class know-how and expertise both at the yard and within the network of suppliers can be utilized to the full extent, and that the shipbuilding and the maritime industry as a whole can continue to sustain a large number of jobs – around 20,000 in total, of which most are highly skilled manufacturing or related jobs. We should note that this is not trivial under the current economic circumstances.
– I would like to say a few words concerning the role of the government. We have been an active facilitator in the process of finding a new solid owner for the yard. Our objective has been that Finnish shipbuilding expertise can be sustained and further developed, and that the yard’s operations can be put on a long term profitable path.
– In my mind, we have been consistent and systematic in our approach: we have actively searched for an industrial partner, and looked into the conditions for finding a basis for a sustainable industrial solution for the yard. We have stated for a long time that the government is ready to take ownership at the yard provided that an industrial partner is found that takes a lead in running and developing the yard. We have achieved this objective.
– Shipbuilding in this scale and quality, with global ambition, is high value added manufacturing, and crucial for our industrial base. Succeeding in this business no doubt requires committed ownership, but also calls for a sustained effort to increase productivity and improve all fields of activity. A healthy company also needs to generate profits. These are needed in order to find the means to finance the necessary investments and simply to be prepared for the bad times – when the market is less positive and there are fewer orders.
– A lot has been achieved with the process that has led to this moment and to the concrete change in ownership. Here, at the yard, the work only starts now. Running and developing an industrial operation of this scale – and doing this profitably in a global marketplace requires tremendous amount of work, skill and dedication. It also means that everyone needs to be involved – the owners, the management and the employees – but also other stakeholders, the suppliers above all. Support is also needed from the local administration and City of Turku – and I know they are very much looking forward to bringing in their contribution as well to ensure success for the future.
– The government is happy to support this process by being a strategic investor in the company. As you know, the investment is done on market terms and through the government’s investment company “Industry Investment” (Tesi). This investment is something that fits very well with the company’s mandate – to promote Finnish businesses and employment through venture capital and private equity. Tesi as a minority investor has a 30 % stake in the company, and Meyer is the majority partner, with the industrial lead in the project. It is the expectation that in the long run Meyer will become a sole owner and Tesi will exit from the company.
– Overall, the conditions are now place to start a new chapter in the history of the Turku yard. The yard has a long history and a proud tradition of quality shipbuilding. In the recent past, the times have been demanding and difficult – and the whole survival of the yard has been put into question. Teaming up with Meyer in my mind ensures that the Turku yard (and its skilled people) now have an opportunity to add a long successful chapter to the history of the yard. There is nothing automatic in the global business and the marketplace, but the basis for a successful operation has been prepared – now it is the time for the yard and its people – and the network of suppliers – show that world’s best ships can be sourced from Finland – and that this can be done on a long term sustainable and profitable manner.
– It has been a real pleasure to be able to kick-start this co-operation with Meyer Werft. My experience is that the Meyer family is exceptionally hard-working, dedicated and business-minded. In our internal discussions sometime during the process, Mr Bernard Meyer commented that they really need to be tough in order to be able to arrive at a sustainable solution on the whole package. My reply was that by being tough you show that Meyer was indeed the right choice as an industrial partner.
– What I particularly like about the Meyer approach is their long term outlook. They are not after quick profits, but I believe have a very long term ambition for developing Turku together with the yards in Germany. A type of family ownership that should be further encouraged in Finland as well.
– A demonstration of the commitment and seriousness is also the fact, first of all, that Mr Jan Meyer is taking over the role as the managing director of Meyer Turku. This also means that Jan will be spending a very considerable time here at the yard, looking after the running and development of the daily operations of the yard. Furthermore, his father Bernard Meyer has assumed the role of the chairman of the board of Meyer Turku Oy. This is very good news.
– Finally, thank you very much for this opportunity to be present here today. I wish you the best of success at the yard. The future is yours!