World’s oldest shipping company goes into liquidation

The world’s oldest shipping company has sold its last vessel and is going out of business, according to the liquidator.

Stephenson Clarke Shipping, started in 1730, has been placed into liquidation, according to a statement from accounting firm Tait Walker.

The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England-based shipper, which employed nine people, sold off its final vessel in July.

The Baltic Dry Index, a gauge of rates to transport dry-bulk commodities by sea, is down 55% this year and on course for a fourth annual slide in five, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.

The current slump is “one of the worst experienced for many years”, the shipping company said in the statement.

“News of the closing of Stephenson Clarke clearly shows how challenging the current economic climate is for shipping,” the UK Chamber of Shipping said in a statement.

“Stephenson Clarke was an historic company and longstanding member until recently and we were very sorry to hear this news.”

The UK shipping industry had £12.6bn (€15.66bn) of revenue in 2010, according to the most recent data on the website of the chamber, which speaks for members including P&O Ferries.

The country’s economy will shrink 0.15% this year, the average of 40 economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg shows.

Stephenson Clarke owned dry-bulk carriers for short-sea voyages, its website shows. It was the world’s oldest shipping firm, according to industry newspaper Lloyd’s List.

“The size of the company and its small fleet mean that its failure is unlikely to have implications for wider shipping markets,” said Marc Pauchet, an analyst at ACM Shipping Group, the third-largest shipbroker in the UK. Still, Stephenson Clarke’s demise is symptomatic of a global surplus of vessels, he said.



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