BEE company takes control of SA Shipyards

Jun 18, 2003
Author: P&S

Marking one of the more significant black economic empowerment (BEE) deals to be concluded in the South African maritime industry, SA Shipyards Investments (SASI) this week acquired a 40 % equity stake in SA Shipyards, the country’s largest shipbuilder.

With 20 % of the Durban-based business already in the hands of the staff and management, of which black personnel are in the majority, this gives effective control of the company to black empowerment groupings.

The original shareholder, known as 10 Rotterdam Investments, is retaining the balance of 40 % but has agreed to make this available to SASI within the next 4 – 5 years.

According to chairman Neil Lewis, SA Shipyards is now better positioned for obtaining the contract to build two 55-ton bollard pull Voith Schneider tractor tugs for the National Ports Authority, for service at the new port of Ngqura (Coega). SA Shipyards has already built five similar tugs which are in service at Richards Bay, Durban and Cape Town.

He said he saw the onset of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) as presenting additional opportunities for shipbuilding, particularly on behalf of countries in West Africa.

Since the commencement of shipbuilding operations in 1996 SA Shipyards has exported more than USD300 million of vessels, mostly in the form of luxury motor yacht hulls which were later fitted out and completed in Rotterdam. The company has won several international awards for excellence following this building programme.

The Durban shipyard currently employs 112 people, which would increase to about 140 if the tug contract is won. In a good year SA Shipyards feeds between R40 and R50 million into the local economy.

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