RPT-Israel shipping data company plans to enter commodity markets

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(Repeat story of MARCH 16. No change to text.)

* To launch the product for banks, traders later this year

* Investors include Asia’s richest man, former CIA chief

* Analysts say smart analytics could give business an edge

By Tova Cohen

TEL AVIV, March 16 (Reuters) – A young Israeli tech company believes the expertise it has gained in tracking ships for governments and security agencies could help it penetrate the much larger provision of information on goods transported by sea.

Windward, founded just over five years ago by two former Israeli naval officers, plans to launch a maritime information service later this year for banks, investors and trading houses, told Reuters its general manager Ami Daniel.

About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea, but there is little visibility of what ships do and what cargo they carry.

With the pressure on traders and banks due to a weak global economy and a rout in commodity markets, having a glimpse of freight movements could give them an advantage in gauging the direction prices will take. It could also help them comply with compliance rules due to sanctions imposed on certain countries, thus avoiding fines.

Windward has established an information network that now processes more than 100 million data points daily from sources such as satellites and transponders used by ships to avoid collisions, Daniel said.

Focusing initially on providing information to coastguards and security agencies, the company also established vessel history and analysis tools to identify deviations from normal activity.

For example, if ships turn off their transponders, Windward is able to give an estimate of their likely activity – a process known as “activity-based intelligence” that goes beyond the information provided by simple data. monitoring of vessels.

Some industry experts believe this could give the company an edge as it seeks to expand into more commercial activities.

“They fill this gap when captains turn off their transponders,” said Morgan Downey, CEO of financial data provider Money.Net and author of the book “Oil 101”, stressing that accurate information on shipping is essential to strengthen the ‘Offer and demand. models for petroleum and other commodities.

Windward has raised more than $ 17 million from investors including Horizon Ventures, the investment arm of Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing, and former CIA director David Petraeus. Analysts estimate that a fundraiser last year gave it a potential market value of around $ 100 million.

Daniel did not disclose sales data, but said revenue has grown 2.5 times per year over the past two years and is forecasting a similar trajectory this year.

Industry experts still see opportunities for growth in the traditional enterprise security market.

Khoo Boon Hui, senior advisor to Singapore’s interior ministry and president of Interpol from 2008 to 2012, said tightening security at airports and land borders could push illegal trafficking further into the seas.

But Daniel also has high hopes for the commercial markets, saying Windward’s database and mapping of ports and piers around the world allowed him to identify exactly what was loaded and unloaded on a ship.

“If a ship is unloading oil, we can tell what kind of oil and how much. We can quantify what the ships are doing rather than what they are saying, ”he said.

Windward competes with several companies in different industries. Colorado’s IHS and London’s Informa provide maritime data, drawing on databases and the manual work of analysts, while Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg offer live data vessel tracking products for customers and Investors.

In maritime safety, Windward competes with GreenLine Systems of Virginia, while US-based ClipperData and Genscape provide insight into global oil flows. (Additional reporting by Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Mark Potter)


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