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Authors: Max Johns (HSBA - Hamburg School of Business Administration)
Originally published in: 2021
Version: 4-Mar-2021
Revision date: 30-Apr-2021

Abstract

Tug boats are powerful service providers on ports and the open sea. Operators and owners of the global fleet of 20000 such sophisticated vessels were traditionally protected by national policies and restrictions. In the last two decades most markets have liberalized, resulting in fierce competition and fast horizontal and vertical consolidation. The case describes this situation in the Port of Hamburg with local market leader Fairplay which had recently merged with its old rival Bugsier and now faces with Boluda a formidable adversary. Previously, the 'Tug War' had possibly been the most emotional event in the Port of Hamburg after 1945. Practically all maritime stakeholders had been involved and divisions ran across all camps. The business community and the political spectrum were heavily divided. It was a drastic wake-up call about what liberalized markets in the EU could practically mean for companies, jobs, strategies - and not least pricing. The case explores the devastating effects of pricing policies that focus only on market share. It shows where a more rational pricing policy may lead. Beyond that, the case offers several avenues to understand the shipping industry, port logistics and maritime strategies. Unusually, the case may also be used to discuss moral implications and obligations of companies under terror regimes such as Nazi Germany.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education courses.

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in Today.

Geographical setting

Region:
Europe
Countries:
Germany; Spain; The Netherlands; Poland; Indonesia
Location:
Hamburg

Featured companies

Fairplay Towage
Employees:
201-500
Type:
Privately held
Industry:
Shipping, seaport, maritime
Boluda
Employees:
501-1000
Type:
Privately held
Industry:
Shipping, seaport, maritime

Featured protagonist

  • Walter Collet (male), CEO

About

Abstract

Tug boats are powerful service providers on ports and the open sea. Operators and owners of the global fleet of 20000 such sophisticated vessels were traditionally protected by national policies and restrictions. In the last two decades most markets have liberalized, resulting in fierce competition and fast horizontal and vertical consolidation. The case describes this situation in the Port of Hamburg with local market leader Fairplay which had recently merged with its old rival Bugsier and now faces with Boluda a formidable adversary. Previously, the 'Tug War' had possibly been the most emotional event in the Port of Hamburg after 1945. Practically all maritime stakeholders had been involved and divisions ran across all camps. The business community and the political spectrum were heavily divided. It was a drastic wake-up call about what liberalized markets in the EU could practically mean for companies, jobs, strategies - and not least pricing. The case explores the devastating effects of pricing policies that focus only on market share. It shows where a more rational pricing policy may lead. Beyond that, the case offers several avenues to understand the shipping industry, port logistics and maritime strategies. Unusually, the case may also be used to discuss moral implications and obligations of companies under terror regimes such as Nazi Germany.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education courses.

Settings

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in Today.

Geographical setting

Region:
Europe
Countries:
Germany; Spain; The Netherlands; Poland; Indonesia
Location:
Hamburg

Featured companies

Fairplay Towage
Employees:
201-500
Type:
Privately held
Industry:
Shipping, seaport, maritime
Boluda
Employees:
501-1000
Type:
Privately held
Industry:
Shipping, seaport, maritime

Featured protagonist

  • Walter Collet (male), CEO

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