Grindrod expands its bunker business

Jul 17, 2005
Author: P&S

The Grindrod Group is continuing with its programme of expansion and diversification and on Thursday (14 July) last week announced the acquisition of a 50% share in United Kingdom-based Cockett Marine Oil, marketer of marine fuels and lubricants.

The deal with Cockett Marine, which currently supplies over five million tonnes of marine fuels and lubricants to the shipping industry worldwide, took effect during July. Cockett Marine trades in North, Central and South America, Russia, Singapore, Monaco and South Africa.

Neither company was willing to reveal the price paid by Grindrod but the purchase will no doubt be financed from a ‘war chest’ of R1 Billion earmarked by the Durban-based company for diversifying away from pure shipping activities.

In recent weeks Grindrod has acquired US group Seaboard’s external trading operations, as well as a 50% share in South African commodity broker Oreport. The company also expanded into railway operations by purchasing a 50% share of Sheltham Rail, and further expanded these operations a week ago with the acquisition of the Durban branch of National Airways Corporation (NAC), an air charter company based at Durban’s Virginia Airport. This was added to NAC’s Port Elizabeth operation acquired earlier by Sheltham – which operates an air charter and maintenance division known as Sheltham Aviation as a division of its railway business.

Earlier this year Grindrod also acquired bulk port terminals at Maputo and Walvis Bay. All these various acquisitions have provided both the shipping and logistics side of the business with trading access to grains, steels, heavy minerals and bunker fuels and adding value to the group’s shipping fleet by way of access to cargoes.

Referring to the latest deal involving Cockett Marine, Ivan Clark, managing director of Grindrod pointed out that there were strong synergies between the two companies.

“Marine bunkering is an integral part of world shipping and although we have within the Grindrod Group a bunkering division called Unilog, this 50% acquisition would substantially increase our footprint in the industry.”

He said Grindrod was involved with many world players in shipping and the petroleum industry and he believed Grindrod could help develop further business opportunities with Marine Crockett.

According to Kevin Bresnahan, Crockett’s MD, the chemistry was right between the two groups and the partnership presented opportunities of taking Crockett Marine Oil to new levels.

“We’ve grown substantially over the years and now with Grindrod as a partner there is just so much opportunity to take Cockett Marine to new levels. We have always worked well with Grindrod and particularly with Island View Shipping and its managing director Tim McClure and we know that the chemistry is right between our two groups.”

Tim McClure said the group was now in grains, steels, heavy minerals and bunker fuels which gave Grindrod and Island View Shipping in particular a broad spread of trading and operating within the commodity market… “particularly in those areas which allow shipping and cross marketing opportunities for Grindrod and allow growth for our partners.”


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