Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 15, 2006
Author: P&S





TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Grindrod completes acquisition of auto and airfreight businesses

  • Safmarine hosts Belgian royal couple on visit to Simon’s Town

  • MSC orders new cruise ship

  • US legislators now turn to re-possessing all US terminals

  • Countrywide strikes – now the ball’s in Transnet’s court







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    Grindrod completes acquisition of auto and airfreight businesses

    Grindrod yesterday announced the acquisition of the remaining 50 percent of Auto Carrier Transport (Pty) Ltd (“Auto Carriers”). Auto Carriers is the largest transporter of vehicular equipment in South Africa and supplies vehicle distribution and logistical services to a substantial number of South African car manufacturers and other importers. Approximately 35 percent of the South African market is serviced by Auto Carriers.

    “Auto Carriers has been one of our long standing entrepreneurial partnerships,” said Grindrod director, Laurence Stuart-Hill. “The opportunity to acquire the remaining 50 percent from our partner, David Taylor, provides a good opportunity for expansion in this field. It fits into our strategy of acquiring outside shareholders’ interests in our various subsidiary companies”.

    David Taylor, who will remain as managing director of Auto Carriers said that the partnership has enabled Auto Carriers to add value to its clients and being wholly owned by Grindrod will remove any further constraints there may be to satisfying clients’ requirements for their finished vehicle logistics.

    “Auto Carriers has invested heavily over the past 2 years in both storage and vehicle carrying capacity to service the growing demand for the movement of fully built up units in South Africa. We see continuing investment in this area,” said Stuart-Hill.

    Grindrod also announced yesterday the acquisition of the remaining 25 percent of Grindrod Perishable Cargo Agents, the South African perishable airfreight business. Grindrod owned 75 percent of this business with Mr Peter Krafft, the managing director, owning the remaining 25 percent. This acquisition gives Grindrod 100 percent ownership of Grindrod PCA.

    Grindrod PCA is the largest South African airfreight forwarding agent, measured by turnover with airlines and has held the number one IATA (International Air Transport Association) position in excess of 25 years. Peter Krafft was previously the managing director of the clearing and forwarding business Röhlig-Grindrod.

    Stuart-Hill added, “We have always said that in time Grindrod would acquire the outside shareholders’ interests in the various subsidiary companies. The strategy of acquiring entrepreneurial businesses via partnership has proven beneficial giving Grindrod access to the various market sectors whilst maintaining entrepreneurial focus and expertise. These managing directors / partners will be replaced in time by Grindrod management who have gained valuable industry expertise during these partnerships.”

    The Auto Carriers transaction is subject to Competition Commission approval. No price was given for the various transactions.


    Safmarine hosts Belgian royal couple on visit to Simon’s Town

    HRH Prince Phillippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium visited the naval town of Simon's Town, South Africa this week at the invitation of Safmarine Container Lines.

    Prince Phillippe is leading a week-long trade mission to South Africa to look at investment opportunities in the country.

    During their visit to the naval town, the royal couple met with learners and teachers from the Simon’s Town School and Maritime Studies Department as well as members of the SA Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA). They also toured Lawhill House, the Safmarine-built learner accommodation facilities constructed from 47 retired seafreight containers.

    Head of the Maritime Studies Department, Brian Ingpen said: “The learners were extremely excited and honoured by the visit of such a distinguished couple."

    Mrs Fientje Moerman, the Flemish Minister of Economy, Enterprise, Science, Innovation and Foreign Trade, Mr van Quickenborne, Secretary of State for Administrative Affairs, and other senior Government officials accompanied the royal couple on their visit to the town.

    The heads of the ports of Antwerp, Ghent and Zeebrugge were also in attendance, as were senior members of Belgium’s business community, which included the logistics and freight industry.


    MSC orders new cruise ship

    Fort Lauderdale – MSC Cruises has announced it will further expand its rapidly growing fleet of contemporary European-style cruise ships. The line, headquartered in Naples, Italy, has signed a contract with Chantiers de l’Atlantique confirming an order for construction of yet another Panamax ship, with delivery slated for March 2008, along with confirming the option for an additional ship.

    The joint announcement was made yesterday (Tuesday) by Italy-based MSC Cruises (USA) President and CEO Richard E. Sasso and Patrick Boissier, CEO of Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

    The ship will be the fifth of the line’s confirmed orders. MSC Cruises currently has contracts with Chantiers de l’Atlantique to build two Panamax and two post-Panamax vessels. The latest addition and option are for Panamax vessels in the same class as the 89,600-ton MSC Musica, which is having her inaugural sailing on 1 July.

    MSC Orchestra, the second Panamax ship, is scheduled to join the fleet in 2007. The line has also contracted for two post-Panamax newbuilds, MSC Fantasia and MSC Serenata.

    The addition of this fifth new order will increase the line’s fleet to 12 ships by 2009.

    “We have come a long way since 2002, when we had three ships in service. This move further solidifies MSC Cruises’ position as the leading European cruise company and the fastest-growing cruise line,” says Sasso. “We are committed to making investments that confirm MSC Cruises as the dominant force in the European cruise market.”

    Newbuilds strengthen MSC Cruises’ position

    Like its sister ships MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra, the newbuild will feature cutting-edge technologies and innovative design. The ship will carry 2,500 passengers and have more than 242,000 square feet of public area. In addition, 85 percent of the staterooms will be outside accommodations and 65 percent of the total number of staterooms will have balconies.

    MSC Cruises has a long-standing relationship with Chantiers de l’Atlantique, which has thus far produced four vessels in the line’s current fleet: MSC Lirica, MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, and MSC Opera.

    MSC Cruises currently has a fleet of seven ships – MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Lirica, MSC Opera, MSC Melody, MSC Rhapsody, and MSC Monterey – and offers itineraries in the Mediterranean (year-round), Northern Europe, Transatlantic, Caribbean, South America and South Africa.

    MSC Melody and MSC Monterey will be cruising in Southern African waters this coming summer.


    US legislators now turn to re-possessing all foreign-owned US terminals

    Having succeeded in repelling the boarders from Arabia who tried to possess the port terminals formerly operated by P&O Ports, US legislators are now turning their attention to dispossessing all foreign-owned port operators in the United States within five years.

    This will become fait accompli if one influential congressman, Duncan Hunter gets his way with a bill being introduced. Hunter chairs the House Armed Services Committee and carries some clout, so all port operators in the USA need take heed of his actions.

    Hunter’s bill intends listing all military and non-military entities as ‘key points’ critical to the national defence, and provided the law is passed these entities may only be owned and operated by genuine US companies.

    Last week Dubai Ports Worldwide, which acquired the worldwide interests of the former British port operator P&O Ports in a willing seller-willing buyer multi billion dollar deal, threw in the towel and announced it would relinquish ownership of the US-based operations of the company, ‘provided that DP World did not lose money on the transaction.’

    One must now ponder what the next step in this xenophobic crusade of paranoia will be – will the US extend measures even further to the point of insisting that ships loading for the US do not do so at Arab-owned terminals internationally?

    If this sounds far-fetched, keep in mind how worldwide port operations were forced to change in keeping with US security demands, with the ISPS Code and the rules pertaining to the Container Security Initiative (CSI) resulting, giving mandates to US customs officers to operate out of foreign ports as a condition for ‘doing business with the US’.


    National strikes – now the ball’s in Transnet’s court

    As Transnet workers returned to work yesterday the country is bracing itself for the next development in this ongoing saga between labour and a seemingly immovable Transnet, intent on restructuring itself by ridding the group of so-called ‘non-core’ businesses.

    On Monday the four unions taking part in the one-day national strike gave warning of their intent to take matters further with additional national strikes of greater length – up to four days has been mentioned.

    Making matters even more serious is the threat of escalation as COSATU and FEDUSA and other bodies warn they may join in next time round, bringing hundreds of thousands of workers out in sympathy protest and essentially shutting down South Africa Inc.

    “Should the response simply repeat the same arrogant intransigence that we have experienced before, we will not hesitate to call on our members to embark on more protracted action,” said union spokesperson Jane Barrett in a statement.

    The unions have set the following demands:

  • An end to bad faith negotiations and unilateral decisions by management
  • Remove Pradeep Maharaj as chief negotiator
  • Job security for five years for workers transferred from Transnet
  • Guarantee conditions of service and benefits for five years
  • Guarantee all existing pension fund rights
  • No transfers until negotiations on all conditions and pension rights are completed
  • In the light of above, the 31 March sale date of Metrorail to be lifted, and the notice of withdrawal to the Bargaining Council to be withdrawn
  • Also Autopax to reverse attempts to change conditions of employment
  • Management to properly engage Labour on the future of Freightdynamics, Autopax, Viamax and any other businesses earmarked for sale
  • Establish the Transnet Development Agency as a matter of urgency


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