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|Fate||Rebranded as P&O Nedlloyd|
|Founded||1 June 1970|
|Defunct||27 June 1997|
Nedlloyd was a Dutch shipping company, formed in 1970 as the Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Unie (NSU) in a merger of several shipping lines:
- Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland (SMN)
- Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd (KRL)
- Koninklijke Java-China-Paketvaart-Lijnen (KJCPL)
- Vereenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaartmaatschappij (VNS)
In 1977 NSU changed its name to Koninklijke Nedlloyd Groep N.V. ("Royal Nedlloyd Group"), and in 1981 the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Stoomboot-Maatschappij (KNSM) merged into the group. Nedlloyd itself later merged with P&O to become P&O Nedlloyd, now a part of Maersk.
Friendly rivalry: 1870–1945
The Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland (SMN), otherwise known as the Netherland Line, was founded in Amsterdam in 1870, while the Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd (KRL) was founded in Rotterdam in 1875. In a long-lasting friendly rivalry, both shipping companies offered regular mail ship services between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies, the Dutch overseas colony in South East Asia now known as Indonesia.
Within the Dutch East Indies, inter-island services were provided by the Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij (KPM), founded in Amsterdam in 1888 and with the operational head office in Batavia, now known as Jakarta.
These shipping services to the Dutch East Indies were complemented by the Koninklijke Java-China Paketvaart Lijnen (KJCPL), also called the "Royal Interocean Lines", founded in Amsterdam in 1902 and with the operational head office at what is now Java Road in Hong Kong.
To ensure independence and to provide protection against involuntary take-overs by competitors, SMN, KRL and KPM formed an alliance under the name NV Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Unie in 1908, which also meant that the individual shipping companies were restricted to their agreed trading areas. This practice is known as a cartel. Highlights of the pre-war developments were the introduction of passenger mail services sailing alternating from Amsterdam and Rotterdam via Suez and the Red Sea to Batavia, in addition to the regular freight services. The inter-island service with connections to Hong Kong was provided by the KPM and KJCPL with passenger-mail vessels Boussevain, Tegelberg, and Nieuw Holland. Passenger vessels managed by KRL and SMN were: Oranje, Johan van Oldenbarneveld, Indrapoera, Christiaan Huygens, Nieuw Holland, Marnix van St. Aldegonde, and Johan de Wit. The well-known Willem Ruys was still under construction at the beginning of World War II at the shipyard in Vlissingen / Flushing and was flooded in the shipyard till 1945.
Toward closer ties: 1945–1970
From 1948 onwards the co-operation between KRL and SMN extended to other geographical areas under the acronym Nedlloyd Lines; their services to the Dutch East Indies resumed, along with those by KPM and KJCPL. Following the birth of the State of Indonesia in 1949, and the subsequent loosening of the old colonial ties, trade with the former colonies declined. Some trade with Indonesia remained possible until 1960; thereafter Dutch vessels were no longer allowed to ply in Indonesian waters, resulting in the majority of the inter-island KPM fleet being laid up at Singapore. As a consequence KPM was amalgamated into KJCPL in 1967.
Also in the post-WWII period, the Verenigde Nederlandse Scheepvaartmaatschappij (VNS) was formed and jointly owned by SMN, KRL, Holland Amerika Lijn, Van Ommeren and KNSM. In practice VNS was operating under different names - Holland Africa Line (originally founded in 1934 to provide coastal feeder services), Holland Persian Gulf Line, Holland Pakistan/India Line, Holland Fareast Line, Holland Australia Line - emphasizing the various trades.
The VNS was the experimental ground for improved integration and introduction of operational innovations, such as containers with the name “Kerklines” resulting in new operational systems viz unit-loads on the Australia service and extending vessels plying to the Far East with a container hold to meet the initial demand for container space.
The more traditional SMN, KRL and KJCPL were facing difficult times which resulted in a government supervised analysis reviewing the current (1969) situation. A proper feasibility study presented by Jan J. Oyevaar reviewed competitiveness, future outlook and financial forecast. The analysis recommended a merger between the major Dutch shipping companies which was established on June 15, 1970 with the N.V. Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Unie of 1908 becoming the holding company.
The SMN, KRL and VNS parts of the new company, with a total seagoing fleet of 84 vessels, now traded under the name Koninklijke Nedlloyd. For a variety of reasons the KJCPL part of the company was kept outside the Nedlloyd scope, and remained a separate entity managed from Hong Kong with 53 seagoing vessels.
In 1977 the Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Unie N.V. holding company as a whole was renamed Koninklijke Nedlloyd Groep N.V. – Royal Nedlloyd Group.
In 1981 the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maatschappij (KNSM), whose financial situation had detoriated considerably, was amalgamated into Nedlloyd. Before then the KNSM was still optimistic about surviving in the trading areas of the Caribbean, Mediterranean and South America. For that reason KNSM had taken over a number of transportation businesses, including the Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd (founded in 1908), well known for its passenger vessels plying between Amsterdam and South America with mainly Eastern European emigrants after World War I.
Having concluded the giant merger which took about 10 years, and with the total rationalisation of Nedlloyd's shipping activities, a separate problem surfaced – coping with strong-headed management and decades old cultures. The pluriformaty of the original shipping companies could not be melted down into a new brand well in time.
In 1985 Nedlloyd initiated a diversification programme and introduced a split in divisions, including non shipping divisions such as the development of worldwide forwarding and parcel services basically connected to the shipping division – the early start of supply chain management. Overall the newly formed group had difficulty in identifying their own core activity, missed the real strategic views and over expanded into non-core activities Nedlloyd did not fully understand.
The desperately required commercial views were overshadowed by a “cashier’s mentality” resulting in a hostile takeover attempt in the late 1980s by the Norwegian investor Torstein Hagen, aimed at steering back to the real shipping activities, leaving the Nedlloyd management panic stricken, digging in and manoeuvring into self-defensive tactics, with the help of shareholders meetings, without facing the real problems.
As from 1990 Nedlloyd was facing a financial disaster and was forced to cash in by selling most of its non-shipping assets, and for the first time in its long history banks were dictating the rules and pulling the strings. The shipping group no longer owned the new buildings and lease plans were created to finance the new building programme and save the group from insolvency.
In 1996, Nedlloyd Lines – the liner shipping division – merged with British P&O Containers Ltd to become P&O Nedlloyd, which was in turn taken over in 2005 by Maersk. The Nedlloyd brand, with its roots in facilitating Dutch colonial trading in a bygone era, thereafter ceased to exist.