Posted on: 23 March 2021
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Jim Davis, one of the original founders of the International Maritime Industries Forum (IMIF) in 1975, its long serving Chairman up to 2016 and Lifetime President. In 2018, IMIF was incorporated into Maritime London, a merger that Jim was instrumental in instigating.
Harry Theochari, Vice-Chairman of Maritime London and IMIF past Chairman said: “I had the good fortune to work with Jim Davis at the very start of my career and learned much from this larger than life man that has held me in good stead ever since. Jim had a real love for our industry, which shone through in everything that he said or did during his truly illustrious career. He was a true servant of the industry, always looking to improve and modernise. Jim’s tireless leadership of the IMIF is clear testament to this. He is without question one of the giants of the modern industry, an iconic figure who contributed so much in his own unique and inimitable way. Above all he was a truly kind person, a gentleman in every sense of the word, who will be fondly remembered and missed by everyone who had the great pleasure of knowing him.“
Alan McCarthy, IMIF’s last Chairman shared his reflections:
Jim had one of the most influential and diverse roles in the global shipping industry over many decades. Among these have been his directorship, at a remarkably young age, of P&O, and Director of Shipping at Kleinwort Benson, at the time one of the world’s leading shipping finance institutions.
But for Maritime London, Jim’s most important influence was his role in founding and leading IMIF. We think of the post 2008 financial crisis as having one of the worst impacts on the global shipping industry. Few now remember the even more catastrophic events of the 1970’s. After the Arab Israeli ‘Yom Kippur’ war of 1973 many Arab nations imposed an oil embargo on the West. The subsequent economic crisis was one of the worst in living memory and its impact on shipping was devastating, especially the tanker markets, with bankruptcies and lay-ups far exceeding those seen post 2008.
It was Jim’s foresight and vision that became instrumental in creating IMIF in 1975, a pioneering affiliation of owners, bankers, charterers, energy companies and many other elements of the global shipping industry. Covering pretty much every aspect of shipping, IMIF became a platform for informal debate and discussion of the problems engulfing the industry and a forum for sharing thoughts and ideas.
IMIF’s influence over the subsequent 40 plus years has been remarkable. It attracted many of the shipping world’s leading figures to speak at its series of informal lunches of almost every conceivable aspect of international shipping; informing and advising government policy and even persuading the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel to acknowledge shipping as a special case in assessing lending risk post the Asian Debt Crisis.
But perhaps Jim will be remembered by most as the genial host of the IMIF annual dinner, one of the highlights of the London shipping scene. His reputation ensured that the guest speaker would always be a major global personality, ranging from powerful international ship owners through politicians to round the world single-handed sailors. He always gave a thoughtful and insightful speech and notoriously finished with a stand-up routine.
He will be sadly missed by us all.