STEPPING down from his role as chairman of shipping and transport company Steamships after 18 years on the board, Bill Rothery has looked back on his time with the group with fondness, and strong hopes for the future.

Mr Rothery said he was grateful to be given the role to steer the company to where it is now going on to describe PNG as an exciting place to do business with tremendous opportunity ahead.

He said the country had just been through a purple patch, so the immediate years ahead probably would require some consolidation, but there is no doubt that long term growth prospects will be positive.

“Steamships position will likely follow the same path,” he said.

“We don’t want to put undue pressure on our balance sheet so in the immediate future we’ll maximise what we’ve got and put ourselves in the best position to participate fully in that next boom.”

He said Steamships’ exit of the retail sector to focus on property was a highlight of his term as chairman.

“Other highlights also include taking a cottage industry, Laga Industries out of Goroka and transforming it into a full blown manufacturer based out of Lae,” he said.

Steamships’ parent company, Swire, has a great regard for the PNG group, Mr Rothery said, adding that PNG had played a part in shaping the careers of a number of senior Swire people.

He added that perhaps the biggest accolade was the fact that the last three chairman of the global Swire group have sat on the Steamships board for an uninterrupted period of 15 years.

During his 18 years on the Steamships board, Mr Rothery served as a director from 1997 to 2005 and then was later appointed chairman in 2006.

He was replaced by outgoing chief executive Geoff Cundle. Mr Cundle was replaced as chief executive of Steamships by Peter Langslow – who has also been seconded from the Swire Group of companies.