Gulftainer acquired full management control of three terminals in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, as the closely held port operator based in the United Arab Emirates seeks to expand in emerging markets.
Gulftainer bought 51 percent of Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Stevedoring Contracting Co., helping it take management control of three terminals in Jeddah and Jubail, the company said today, without disclosing the value of the transaction. The acquisition makes it the largest port operator in the Middle East by number of terminals operated, Gulftainer said.
“Saudi Arabia is hugely important for the company’s ambition in the Middle East,” Badr Jafar, vice chairman of Gulftainer, said in an interview today. “Going forward we see the majority of the company’s growth in developing markets.”
Saudi Arabia is spending billions of dollars to develop energy and infrastructure projects in regions such as Jubail, home to several projects that are being developed with companies including Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) and Total SA. Gulftainer, with its stake in Gulf Stevedoring, is likely among companies that stand to gain from shipment of goods to help develop the projects.
Gulftainer has ports and logistics operations in the U.A.E., Iraq, Russia, Lebanon and Brazil, as well as ventures in Turkey and Pakistan. The company expects to handle more than 10 million containers in the next five years, compared with a forecast of 6 million containers this year, driven by international operations, said Jafar, who is also the chief executive of Crescent Enterprises.
The port operator is considering opportunities in Africa, America and the eastern Mediterranean region for investments, Jafar said. “The exact ports and locations are under review.”
Gulftainer also plans to invest $150 million over five years in its home base in Sharjah and the U.A.E., where it expects to raise capacity to 8 million twenty-foot equivalent units by 2015. The company plans to invest $500 million over two years as it expands in Russia and Saudi Arabia, Jafar told Bloomberg News last month.
“We have a decent amount of work cut out for ourselves this year,” Jafar said today. “It doesn’t necessarily mean we are not looking at closing transactions in the remainder of the year, but our focus will be on recent acquisitions and operations.”
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