Monday, December 31, 2018

Global Port and Logistics Group Reflects on an Eventful Year

DP World Looks at 2018 Achievements
Shipping News Feature
DUBAI – WORLDWIDE – As usual the end of a year gives companies a chance to reflect on their progress, or otherwise, over the past twelve months and port and logistics outfit DP World, which these days favours the description of 'trade enabler', is no exception. For 2018 this meant a deepening of its engagement with some revolutionary new technologies whilst both diversifying its global business portfolio through investments and acquisitions worth $3 billion, and extending support to environmental initiatives around the world.

For the Dubai headquartered group the headline projects were the launch of DP World Cargospeed, with Virgin Hyperloop One and subsequently taking over leadership of the technology company, the digital transformation of business operations across the global portfolio, and, as we reported last week, the inception of the innovative High Bay Storage system for containers at Jebel Ali port.

Additionally there was the launch of that $3 billion investment platform in India, the acquisition of various complementary businesses in Europe, India and Peru, and container port development projects in Africa. Meanwhile DP World has also successfully closed the 100% acquisition of Drydocks World LLC.

People development was another key area of focus through an association with the Erasmus University, in Rotterdam to develop a strategic skills development programme, and the 20Xel programme to recruit the brightest of the UAE nationals for future leadership roles. DP World Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, ran through his view of the company’s achievements in a busy year, saying:

”2018 was a successful year and a period of strategic growth for DP World in diverse fields. We made major strides in our evolution into company with a focus on smarter trade to make lives better through data driven logistics. Innovation with an eye on future trade solutions and acquisitions designed to expand our global business footprint were twin themes. Despite the challenging global economic uncertainties, we have experienced continued revenue growth by focusing on high value cargo, operational efficiencies and consistently delivering value to our customers through smart solutions.

“Our sustained interest in tomorrow’s trade enabling technologies saw us taking a leadership role in Virgin Hyperloop One, our partners in developing DP World Cargospeed, the high speed transport system that will revolutionise the way we do trade. Simultaneously, we ended the year by embracing an existing technology to deliver a quantum leap in container stacking and storage in flagship Jebel Ali Port. On its successful completion, we plan to adopt it across our other terminals.

“Our partnerships and acquisitions too gathered pace in a wide range of locations and sectors. The $3 billion investment platform in India with the government’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) saw us acquire Continental Warehousing Corporation (Nhava Sheva) Ltd. Complementary businesses were also added to our global portfolio in Peru and in Europe with the Unifeeder Group.

“Elsewhere, our activities in Kazakhstan developed as we signed two framework agreements to run Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Aktau and Khorgos which act as primary transit points for trans-Eurasian cargo trains. DP World acquired a 51% stake in the Khorgos SEZ and 49% in the Aktau SEZ, with both facilities playing an important role in enhancing trade connectivity along the New Silk Route.

“In the Americas, we have agreed on terms for the next phase of expansion for the DP World Prince Rupert Fairview Container Terminal on the Pacific Coast of Canada. In Europe, a new cruise passenger terminal at DP World Limassol opened providing world-class facilities and services for passengers.”

“Our activity in Africa gathered pace as we signed an agreement with the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) to implement the first phase of an integrated industrial and residential zone in Sokhna, Egypt. We will also soon build and operate a 1,000-hectare modern logistics hub outside of Bamako in the Republic of Mali. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we announced a new concession for the management and development of a greenfield multi-purpose port at Banana, the first deep-sea port in the country along its small coastline of 37 kilometres.

“Last but not least, Ethiopia became a shareholder of the Port of Berbera as we invest in infrastructure to develop the Berbera Corridor as a trade gateway for the landlocked nation, which is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Construction began on the expansion works in Berbera and we look forward to helping the region develop its economic potential. We are committed to continue to build on the gains of the past year as we enter 2019.”

Africa however did produce one stain on the DP World calendar with the seizure by the Djibouti government of the Doraleh container terminal in February, a major dispute which has had ramifications right up the chain of international politics as China continues to dominate the Djiboutian economy, much to the chagrin of America. DP World’s subsequent move into neighbouring Ethiopia has equally angered the Djibouti authorities.

Full details of the complexities of that particular case can be tracked back via a host of previous stories.

Photo: Yesterday (December 30) saw the DP World sponsored four-man team and their rowing trimaran Year of Zayed pass the half way mark in their epic world record attempt to row the 2,305 nautical miles from Dakar, Senegal to Paramaribo, Suriname. The trip aims to galvanise a multinational partnership to rid the oceans of plastic waste.