Over the last 15 years, Sergey Frank has overseen significant changes to Sovcomflot
The office of Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov has reported that Sovcomflot’s chief executive Sergey Frank is to step down after 15 years in charge of the state-controlled shipping company. It is believed he will move up to chairman of the board of Sovcomflot. Sovcomflot’s vice president Igor Tonkovido has been nominated as the next chief executive.
Sergey Frank was the Russian minister of transport before being appointed Sovcomflot chief executive in 2004. His first task was to steer the company through the long-running court cases in London concerning different executives and shipbrokers. At the same time, there was talk of Sovcomflot being launched on the public markets in what could have been one of the largest shipping IPOs at the time. This was to be a theme during his time in office as chief executive, but the IPO was always conditional on the changing relationships between the US and Russia as much as the fluctuating appetites of investors for more shipping paper.
He oversaw the takeover of other Russian shipping companies and made the company the centrepiece of the logistics required to export Russian Arctic oil and gas. The move to LNG-powered dual-fuel crude oil tankers will be his main operational legacy but behind the scenes he has been instrumental in creating a corporate culture that takes pride in Russia’s depth of experience in Arctic operations, including Sovcomflot’s exclusive ice-operations training centre in St. Petersburg.
The move to chairmanship also has interesting possibilities with regards to an IPO. The IPO has never been ruled out completely, and Sovcomflot, at least in shipping circles, has built up considerable goodwill and has an alternative fuel story to tell. Passing on the daily operational challenges to the next chief executive frees up Sergey Frank to steer the next stage of Sovcomflot’s strategy from the chairman’s seat.