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Sohmen honoured with lifetime achievement award

Sohmen honoured with lifetime achievement award

London: Dr Helmut Sohmen, the chairman of tanker and offshore giant BW Group, was honoured last night with the Seatrade Personality 2009 prize in honour of his lifetime achievements. Sohmen was presented with the hand-blown glass trophy as the finale to proceedings at the 21st Seatrade Awards gala dinner held at London's 900-year-old Guildhall.

Sohmen has had a varied career, including running an airline and dabbling in diplomacy. When he took over from legendary WorldWide tanker owner, Sir YK Pao, his father-in-law, he took on management of one of the world's largest tanker fleets at a time of awful freight rates. He proceeded to scrap huge volumes of ships. In his 30-plus year tenure of the company though he has brought the firm back so that it has even surpassed Pao's tonnage levels.

Sohmen bought out many firms, most notably Bergesen in 2002 for $1.5bn, which led to the company being rebranded BW. Controversially, he shifted operational headquarters from Hong Kong to Singapore in the 1990s.

The multi-award winning group now has wide interests including FPSOs, LNG, tankers and VLOCs.
This year Sohmen became the first shipowner to speak at the Singapore National Maritime Lecture, following on from Lee Kuan Yew in 2007 and IMO head Efthimios Mitropoulos in 2008, the latter of whom was once again a judge and an ever present at the London ceremony yesterday.
Accepting the award, Sohmen said: "Awards tend to focus minds on the past but shipping is full of surprises and continuing challenges and I personally believe you should never rest. Apart from the market situation we have other issues that require a lot of time and concentration to settle such as emissions control and piracy. The last one can't be left to shipowners alone. If governments can't coordinate actions I think the model will spread and we'll face a similar situation in other parts of the world." [19/05/09]