Sharjah's Gulftainer to expand portfolio in Africa, Americas

October 11, 2018
Sister port agreement signed between Sharjah Department of Seaports & Customs and Diamond State Port Corp

Sharjah-based global port operator Gulftainer is looking at expanding its portfolio in Americas, Africa and Far East and will close another acquisition in Americas next year, its group CEO said on Wednesday.

'We will be making another announcement about acquisition in 2019. We are very close to finalising a port agreement in Americas. I would love to see Gulftainer taking 2 acquisitions every year for the next 10 years. But realistically, if we can get one acquisition a year, it would put us in a good position,' said Peter Richards, group CEO of Gulftainer.

'In the next few years, we are not just increasing in North America but South America as well. We did Brazil venture but Brazil was then not going through good time. However, we will not forget Brazil and will look at it. We are talking to numerous entities in Europe also aim to go to Far East Asia as well. We believe Indian market is saturated but there are niche opportunities,' Richards said on the sidelines of a press conference organised for the signing of a sister port agreement between the Department of Seaports & Customs of Sharjah and the Diamond State Port Corporation (DSPC), a corporate entity of the State of Delaware, USA.

Sheikh Khaled bin Abdullah bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman, Department of Seaports & Customs, Sharjah Airport International Free Zone and Hamriyah Free Zone Authority, and Jeffrey Bullock, Secretary of State of Delaware, signed the agreement at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce.

Gulftainer plans to invest $580 million in developing the cargo terminal capabilities of the Port of Wilmington to enhance its overall productivity. The company's remit includes the construction of a new 1.2 million TEU container facility worth approximately $410 million at DuPont's former Edgemoor site that Diamond State Port Corporation acquired in 2016. Gulftainer will also establish an onsite training centre for the ports and logistics industries that is expected to train up to 1,000 people every year once it reaches full capacity.

'Who would dream that you could get a 50-year concession (of a US port). In the past, there has been concessions in the region of 10 or 20 years in the Middle East and Europe. It's a unique concession. That not just gives you the opportunity to operate the container terminal, but to operate the whole port - break-bulk cargo, general cargo and liquid cargo,' added Richards.

He pointed out that there is a lot of money in the market that needs to be put in place into investment usage and America is a very good area to look at because it is a very stable and growing economy, especially in logistics and ports are very attractive investments.

He disclosed that Gulftainer aims to increase its global footprint in the next 10 years by almost 4-5 times.

'We are actually in Lebanon as well and we see huge potential in that area, especially in Syria if the conflict starts to die down and peace returns to region. There is a tremendous amount of work in Syria. We hope we will be part of that work to rebuild Syria after the conflict,' Richards added.

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