Warm praise for chairman Jim Davis at International Maritime Industries Forum 40th anniversary gala dinner
By James Brewer
Members and guests of the International Maritime Industries Forum gave a standing ovation to chairman Jim Davis for his inspiring leadership, as the forum celebrated its 40th anniversary with a gala dinner.
This followed praise from the rostrum and informally for Mr Davis, who is in his 63rd year in the industry, and was presiding over the IMIF dinner for the 33rd time.
The ruby anniversary of the IMIF found reflection in many shades of red in costumes, dresses, jewellery, neckties and bow ties sported by those present at the event, in the ballroom of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Portman Square, in London’s West End.
Mr Davis describes the IMIF as ”unique in that it is the only body which affords shipowners, shipbuilders, cargo owners, bankers, classification societies, insurers – indeed all components of the maritime industries – the opportunity to meet regularly at the highest level for discussions on the many problems of their separate industries whose prosperity is inextricably linked.”
Ranged at a top table and 25 other tables, IMIF members and guests applauded the chairman warmly at the close of the event. They had just heard a eulogy from Harry Theochari of law firm Norton Rose Fulbright in praise of the leadership of Mr Davis and those of his co-thinkers who had made the IMIF a success. “It has been a fantastic 40 years for the IMIF, ” said Mr Theochari, “and Jim has been at the helm since 1981.”
Mr Theochari, global head of transport at his firm, spoke of the early days of the IMIF, when the industry was contending with a deep crisis because of excess shipbuilding capacity, inadequate financial backing and a general pessimism. While there had been progress, “Jim… there is still a lot of work to do, so – get on with it!” urged Mr Theochari in a jocular way, although the sentiment of the advice to the IMIF was understood too in its serious aspect.
Anecdotes followed, and Mr Theochari described Mr Davis as a successful businessman and caring father; and “he is an extremely good man, in the real sense of the word.”
Mr Davis referred to the dreadful state of the industry in the mid-1970s and 1980s. Rather than despairing, the founders of the IMIF had determined: “Let’s do something together.”
Mr Davis said: “There needed to be a forum that sought to deliberate in a frank manner. We needed to do it together, because we certainly could not solve the situation individually.”
Today the problems seemed less acute, but there was always a danger they could resurge. Members of the shipping community had to swim together, or they would sink together.
The chairman was “proud of what we have achieved” but time was moving on. At his age, “it was time to give up a few things. People have said to me throughout my career, it is about time the old fool set down.” Despite these last remarks, the chairman gave no firm statement that he is about to give up the IMIF post.
Ian Bouskill, who organised IMIF events for many years before retiring, reminded the audience that the IMIF had always relied on voluntary effort and support from businesses. “We depend 100% on our members, ” he said, adding: “I think the organisation has tremendous potential still.” The IMIF was built on the need to bring people together to solve problems, and it would continue to further that aim.
In recognition of his leadership, Mr Davis was presented by Mr Theochari with a gift of fine wine, and his wife Hanny with a handsome bouquet in appreciation of her support.
During pre-dinner drinks and the entry of guests into the dining area, the band of London Borough of Sutton Sea Cadets, whose unit name is TS Puma, entertained with a stirring selection of nautical music.
A challenging quiz of 20 questions from the fields of naval, merchant marine and general knowledge was addressed by the guests as they tucked into the generous repast.
Space prevents us listing all those present, but here below we give a flavour of the impressive guest list of “old” and “new” supporters, people with links around the world – with many European countries, the Indian sub-continent, Far East and so on.
In the guest list, London’s strong legal base was in evidence including David Baker, Will Cooper, Jonathan Goldfarb, Beatrice Russ and Renaud Barbier-Emery of Ince & Co; Julie Clegg, Roderick McGeachy, David Metzger, Elena Tang and Dora Mace-Kokota of Stephenson Harwood; Rhys Clift of Hill Dickinson; Richard Dibble, Patrick Kirkby, Michael O’Donnell, Kavita Shah and Lindsey Keeble of Watson Farley & Williams; Simon Hartley and Philip Roche of Norton Rose Fulbright; Tony Rice and Thomas Willian of Holman Fenwick & Willan; and Maria Ester Bobadilla of Patton Moreno & Asvat.
Richard Greiner and Michael Simms of shipping accountants Moore Stephens were among the crowd.
People from the insurance world included Daniel Boutcher of Canopius Group; Haydn Costin and Alice Johnson of QBE European Operations; Alistair Groom of Charles Taylor; and Sunil Malhotra of British Marine. Security specialists included Capt John Dalby of Marine Risk Management.
Shipowner and operator specialists included Shicheng Yang of Cosco (UK); Andrew Craig-Bennett of Cosco Maritime (UK); Anil Deshpande, Flavian D’Souza, Philippa Wright and Akhil Gupta of Foresight; Lilian Evgenides of Teekay Shipping (UK); Trevor Fairhurst of Denholms; Jens Gruner-Hegge of Stolt Nielsen; Flemming Jacobs of Inchcape Shipping Services; Peter Karlsen of Norbulk Shipping; Tamio Kawashima of the Japanese Shipowners’ Association; Jebb Kitchen of Bibby Line; Lefteris Pavlidis of Tsakos Shipping & Trading. From the salvage sector came Andreas Tsavliris and George Tsavliris of Tsavliris (Shipping).
Graham Barnes of BankService Insurance Services hosted a table, and many of the major ship finance interests were represented.
Lesley Batchelor and Lord Clinton-Davis were flying the flag for the Institute of Export.
Class societies played their part. Ajay Kumor of the International Association of Classification Societies; Tom Boardley of Lloyd’s Register; Philippe Boisson, Fred Hardy and Yannis Calogeras of Bureau Veritas; Dr Abdul Rahim and Kazuto Yoshinaga of Class NK; and Gillian Smyth of ABS graced the list.
Capt Robert McCabe and Bridget Hogan of The Nautical Institute, and Commander Graham Hockley of Trinity House represented other essential pillars of the shipping industry.
The Greeks were there in full force (we counted 28 people, a strong percentage of the corpus) and included Kostas Amarantidis of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee and Mrs Tenia Amarantidis; Maria Syllignaki of the same Greek committee; Commander HCG Dimosthenis Botsis; and Lt Commander HCG Antonios Doumanis.
Malta was not to be left out: old friends greeted entrepreneur John Gauci-Maistre and his wife Ann Marie.