‘Change agent’ Jeremy Penn defends Baltic Exchange sale in swansong

Last Friday in a swansong, before the sale of the Baltic Exchange to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) was finalised today, outgoing chief executive Jeremy Penn made a speech defending the deal that sees the sale of one of shipping’s oldest institutions moving from London to Asia.

Penn’s comments came at Capital Link’s 6th Annual ‘Operational Excellence & Maritime CSR Forum’ in London on November 2, where he was presented with the Maritime CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Leadership Award. Introducing the award, last year’s recipient Clay Maitland said it was richly deserved as Penn had proven himself a “change agent” at both the Baltic and previous employer Reuters.

SGX confirmed the deal to buy the Baltic Exchange had been completed on Tuesday 8 November and that Alex Lenhart, currently UK country manager for SGX, would serve as interim ceo of the historic institution until the previously announced Mark Jackson takes over the role on 31 January 2017.

In his final speech on Friday as chief executive of the Baltic Penn, after thanking the organisers, began by noting his good fortune in having worked for “two organisations with fabulous names and traditions - Reuters, now Thomas Reuters, and the Baltic Exchange.” Both stood for the principles of “independence, integrity and freedom from bias,” he said, with the Baltic also representing “fair dealing in the marketplace”.

“Correct and appropriate behaviour is important, it is possible to conduct a business cleverly and aggressively but honestly,” he stressed.

Penn went on to describe the processes of how the Baltic rates are put together, saying that transparency and daily supervision of the Baltic indices production process is proof of these principles.

With the Baltic being sold to SGX of Singapore, its independence will remain unaffected, he emphasised.

“I firmly believe this deal with SGX protects and even enhances the Baltic Exchange,” he said. “Is it a loss to London? Absolutely not, as with the London Stock Exchange joining with Deutsche Börse, the purchase of the Baltic will not affect its role in London.

“These are global businesses,” he added. “We want to attract investment into London. SGX want to expand into the UK, and use the Baltic Exchange as the platform for doing that.”

On the wider subject on London as a global maritime centre, Penn admitted that the city was facing “challenges” - such as changes to the non-dom rules and now Brexit - but he remained confident that it would maintain its current role as what he called “the world’s most important maritime centre.”

Penn will continue to be director and treasurer of Maritime London and director of Maritime UK, as well as chairing the Steering Group for London International Shipping Week 2017 among other appointments.

Posted 08 November 2016

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Bob Jaques

Editor of Seatrade Maritime Review

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