Estonian Shipping Company

Tschudi Shipping Company AS owns the former national shipping company of Estonia, ESCO. The ESCO fleet is operated commercially by Rederiet Otto Danielsen in Copenhagen with technical and crew management by Tschudi Ship Management AS in Tallinn and Tschudi Ship Management Ltd in Odessa. The Estonian Shipping Company is in fact the oldest ship-owing company in Estonia.

Estonian Shipping Company History

The Estonian Shipping Company, ESCO, with the registered name in Estonian: AS Eesti Merelaevandus, is the oldest ship-owning company in Estonia. ESCO has proud traditions with roots dating back from the middle of the 20th century.

In 1997 Tschudi & Eitzen (T&E)  was approached by Pareto, a project broker in Oslo, who represented a US-based investor, Stanton Capital Inc. Stanton wanted a Norwegian partner with shipping experience for a bid to acquire the Estonian Shipping Corporation (ESCO) in Tallinn.

ESCO was now up for sale in the government’s privatization campaign, offering a stake of 70% as the first step. ESCO had been a part of the Soviet-era shipping empire managed from Moscow and had a fleet of 49 vessels of various types and sizes and an organization of 240 persons in Tallinn. At T&E, the partners saw opportunities in Estonia and with the profit from T&E Product Tankers and T&E Shipping, a stake was taken in Baltic Sea AS which became a 20 % partner in Esco Holding AS.

Competing with several other parties, ESCO Holding was announced by the Estonian privatization agency as the chosen buyer on June 11, 1997. In addition to challenges of a cultural nature, the take-over coincided with the beginning of the financial crisis in Asia. ESCO’s main problem over the next few years was strained liquidity as the company strove to meet its financial obligations.

It took a lot of consideration and tactics to sort out the problems and find a solution. During an extraordinary general meeting on December 20, 2001 the shareholders were required to commit themselves to a common strategy, or back off. T&E’s strategy was to auction off the company and pay off the debt. The board agreed to the plan. The only bidder was T&E, which offered to pay the amount equal to the Government’s claim and thus become the owner.
In August 2002 the deal was finally concluded.
By a complex process T&E had come out as owner of a refinanced ESCO. The fleet had been scaled down and the strategy refocused on the logistic dimension in the trade between Estonia, Russia and Western Europe.

History of Estonian seafaring

The history of Estonian seafaring can be charted back many centuries. From as early as the middle of the first millenium BC, the forefathers of the ancient Ests were navigating small ships throughout the Baltic Sea.

Her advantageous geographical position enabled Estonia to become an intermediary in seaborne trade between the West and the East. Located at an oxbow of the Pirita River, the town of Iru became home to the ancient Ests.
Combined with the convenience of a wind-sheltering bay, this settlement provided safe anchorage for sea ships and thus initiated port developments. From this point at the turn of the X century and early into the XI century, the port town of Tallinn and her bay emerged as a large merchant harbor on the northern coasts of Estonia.

Both the town and the port gained much momentum in the times of Peter I (the Great), as he had a keen understanding of the value of the unfreezing, deeply wind sheltered Baltic port. During his time the Merchant Harbor was being built and the fleets renewed; trade developed and shipments were being carried out.

In the XIX century the rate of construction of sail vessels was rapidly increasing: by 1842 the first steamer was already launched. In 1879, the first shipping company «Linda» was established.