• K

Business re-purposing

"Cruise liners are basically floating hotels. I think quite a number of them will be bankrupt soon."

Creativity and innovation are priced on the assumption that there is healthy underlying demand from the end user.


In 2014-15, liftboats became increasingly popular with many boat builders and offshore oil diggers. Apparently, digging for petroleum requires you to send more than a couple of boats out to sea - rigs, tugging barges, work and accommodation barges. The liftboat combines a few of these functionalities, allowing you to just send one vessel out, thereby saving costs. Some of the larger offshore companies had ordered these vessels, paying for as much as $600 million.


As the resources in shallow waters depleted, companies started to send their vessels further out to sea. And to make sure that it remained commercial to drill for oil, they had to dig deeper and longer, requiring the use of more sophisticated rigs such as drill-ships, some of which cost as much as $1 billion to build. So you can understand that when prices of oil tumbled below $50, everyone across the value chain - from builders, charterers to explorers - were scared sh*tless.


If you end up with a $1 billion piece of metal and oil prices hovering at around $40-50 a barrel - would you stay put and lose money or drill and lose money? Can you re-purpose a drill-ship for a different consumer market? A number of these once glorified companies actually went out of business or got acquired by other operators. It's not so different in today's circumstances.

With most of automotive manufacturing out of commission, car manufacturers such as Ford and GM had started to re-purpose their plants to build respirators / ventilators. Air travel has also basically come to a standstill because no one is traveling - for business or for leisure. But when it comes to the last mile delivery - food, groceries and basic supplies - airlines can quite possibly convert their fleet to transport supplies and cargo. Although tourist arrivals have taken a hit, hotels can be used to ease some of the capacity constraints faced by hospitals.


But a cruise-liner is basically a floating hotel. You can try re-purpose the vessels to transport cargo but it'll take too much work. We already have plenty of dry bulk vessels for that. In addition, a lot of these cruise companies based in the US don't seem to be part of Trump's stimulus package as they hire a lot of foreign workers and aren't technically incorporated in the US.


Some industries are better positioned that others to pivot their resources. The current situation is really a test of a company's ability to effectively re-purpose itself, essentially - to innovate or die.

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