Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 16, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Grindrod steams ahead

  • Tender for Safmarine Agulhas scrapping closes today

  • Eastern Cape logistics park opens

  • US Ambassador-designate to Mauritius and Seychelles spells out island economics experience

  • Mystery over how Coega Development Corporation got R800 million of public money

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
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    Grindrod steams ahead

    Grindrod has reported profits of R465 million for the 6 months to 30 June 2006. This equates to headline earnings per share of R1.02 a growth of 15.4 percent.

    “We are extremely happy with our results especially given the lower shipping markets compared to the first six months of last year”, said Ivan Clark, Grindrod’s CEO.

    Shipping markets performed in line with expectations. The larger fleet, ship sales, contractual income and the weaker Rand / USD exchange rate, contributed to a 13 percent earnings growth for Shipping Services. Trading, Freight and Financial Services had mixed results but still posted a 34 percent growth in earnings.

    Alan Olivier, CEO designate who will be taking over from Clark at the end of the year was upbeat on shipping markets. “Markets are normally softer during the northern hemisphere summer but recovered earlier than anticipated.” Shipping markets have improved substantially over recent weeks and the outlook for the second half of the year is favourable due to stronger than anticipated demand for both dry bulk and petroleum products.

    Shipping Services have had a busy period in respect of ship purchase and sale activities with a number of ships ordered, sold and contracted for sale next year.

    The group continues its strategy to ensure sustainable earnings through having contracted revenue and appropriate ship sales to lock in profits in high markets. 66 percent of the fleet is contracted for the remainder of 2006 and 57 percent for 2007.

    The group’s strategy is to increase the profit contribution from freight operations through the acquisition or development of complementary businesses aimed at providing a full range of transport, warehousing and logistics services to our customers.

    “Our non-shipping businesses are taking some time to fully develop but have huge potential” said Ivan Clark, “We don’t like paying large goodwill or high PE’s so we tend to grass root opportunities which does have an impact on operating results initially”.

    During the period, the group repurchased 15.6 million ordinary shares at an average price of R11.75.

    An interim dividend of 28 cents per ordinary share which is 40 percent up on 2005 (2005: 20 cents) has been approved by the directors.

    Clark said, “We now have an underpin of sound earnings and its all in cash which should see growth in earnings and business as we go forward as an even larger and more successful company.

    - source Grindrod

    Tender for Safmarine Agulhas scrapping closes today

    The deadline for tenders to remove the wreckage of the ill-fated container ship Safmarine Agulhas closes today (Wednesday), after having been extended by one week.

    Once the successful bidder is announced the emphasis on the ship will turn to removing as much of the vessel and its remaining cargo of about 80 containers as possible.

    Salvage experts and the regional representative of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) were due to go on board the wreck at midday yesterday to inspect the condition of the ship and its cargo holds. The weather is expected to worsen in the next few days with gale force winds and high swells that may make any future visit to the ship more difficult.

    Eastern Cape logistics park opens

    Phase one of the new Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park at Uitenhage outside Port Elizabeth has been completed at a cost of R105 million.

    The logistics park has already attracted a number of automotive suppliers as well as leading shipping company Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and several other tenants.

    The park which is now operational has been developed as a project headed by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in an a effort to strengthen the metro’s automotive sector and help create employment – Nelson Mandela Metro (Greater Port Elizabeth) is home to General Motors and Volkswagen among other automotive manufacturers and is keen to grow this sector.

    MSC’s involvement in the park is by way of a container depot – the shipping line holds contracts for the shipping of motor vehicles and parts to and from Port Elizabeth. The park has a further 150 ha available for future expansion and according to the metro planning for Phase 2 will begin this year.

    “Investment remains the key challenge to further unlock the value of the development and the Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park has been established to support anticipated growth in the automotive industry,” says the municipality.

    US Ambassador-designate to Mauritius and Seychelles spells out island economics experience

    by Charles W. Corey
    Washington File Staff Writer

    Washington - The U.S. ambassador-designate to Mauritius and Seychelles, Cesar Cabrera, told senators considering his nomination that he would bring to the job a special understanding of island economies and trade matters, as well as 35 years of business experience.

    In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Cabrera said, "As a native of Puerto Rico, I believe I am well suited to understand and address the bilateral issues in our relationships with the two island nations. …

    "Growing and processing sugar cane and the production of textiles and apparel have been central features of the economies of both Puerto Rico and Mauritius," he told the lawmakers.

    "Puerto Rico, Mauritius and Seychelles all support vibrant and growing tourist industries and confront the challenges of natural disasters, whether it be hurricanes or tsunamis," he added.

    Cabrera said his goal is to "turn my understanding of small islands into policies and programs that advance the interests and welfare of the United States and the people of Mauritius and the Seychelles."

    Trade continues to be the primary focus of the U.S.-Mauritius bilateral relationship, he said. "Though its economic growth has slowed recently, Mauritius stands out among African nations for its strong economic performance over the past four decades, its political stability, its commitment to democracy and its ethnic tolerance," he added.

    Cabrera also praised Mauritius as a "reliable partner" for the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and in the Doha Development Round trade negotiations. "Embassy Port Louis seeks to further strengthen our trade relations and assist with Mauritius's transition to a more open, globally competitive economy," he said.

    Cabrera told the lawmakers he brings to the position more than 35 years of success as a businessman. "If confirmed," he pledged, "I will work with the government of Mauritius to strengthen our trade relationship by promoting the African Growth and Opportunity Act to the fullest, by identifying U.S. markets for Mauritian products and new partnerships with American suppliers, and by assisting with the restructuring of the economy to find new engines for growth."

    Turning to the Seychelles, Cabrera called it a relatively wealthy country, but cautioned that it is not yet realizing its full economic potential.

    "The 2006 presidential elections offer an opportunity for the introduction of badly needed reforms by President Michel, who has thus far been unable or unwilling to push through broad economic change," he said.

    The U.S. Department of the Treasury, he added, is considering technical assistance for the Seychelles in the area of debt management, and he pledged to continue to engage the government and private sector on the Seychelles' economic challenges.

    In addition to their economic importance, Mauritius and the Seychelles both offer opportunities for the United States in furthering democracy in the region, he said.

    As one of Africa's most stable democracies, Mauritius is a model and a regional leader in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The U.S. government was pleased to see Mauritius run for -- and win -- a seat on the newly established U.N. Human Rights Council, he said.

    The Seychelles, which has not had a democratic transfer of power since independence in 1976, held presidential elections last week. "I am hopeful that the peaceful conduct of this election will herald a new opening in Seychelles' democratic tradition."

    James Alix Michel of the Seychelles People's Progressive Front was sworn in on 1 August as president of the Republic of Seychelles one day after winning a tight race against Anglican priest and opposition leader Wavel Ramkalawan of the Seychelles National Party.

    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters, "The United States commends the people and government of the Republic of the Seychelles on the successful presidential elections held 28 to 30 July.

    "International observers," he added, "have noted that the election was conducted peacefully and with few irregularities, and that it met international standards for a credible election. We commend the Seychellois people on their high voter turnout and their commitment to the democratic process."

    Concluding his testimony, Cabrera said both Mauritius and the Seychelles have proven to be reliable and valuable partners in the U.S.-led fight against international terrorism.

    "Both nations continue to participate in U.S. counterterrorism training and are central to regional efforts to combat money laundering and piracy. The Seychelles, in particular, is playing an important role in anti-piracy efforts by the U.S. Navy. I will build on this cooperation and encourage both nations to share their expertise with neighboring governments," he said.

    (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

    Mystery over how Coega Development Corporation got R800 million of public money

    An air of mystery surrounds how the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) was allocated approximately R800 million of public money.

    This is part of the enquiry being undertaken by the Pillay Commission which has been investigating provincial government finances. Among its enquiries it has focused on the Department of Economic Affairs, Environment and Tourism.

    According to the chairman of the Commission, Judge Ronnie Pillay, the fact that the CDC received moneys from the provincial government means that it is to be held accountable to the Commission. Judge Pillay said the Commission would be looking into who was responsible for channeling public money to the corporation.

    “If someone received that money, what happened to it? Nobody can hide behind any legislation to avoid giving us those answers,” he said.

    The national Department of Trade and Industry has held shares in Coega since 2001 but the Commission was told that since 2001 the CDC was not supposed to be funded from the provincial revenue fund.

    - source Daily Dispatch article

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