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New Gulftainer CEO sees opportunity in Asia, Africa, USA

Flemming Dalgaard, a former DP World executive, was appointed CEO on March 1

Gulf News

Dubai: Gulftainer’s newly appointed chief executive believes there is opportunity in Asia, Africa and the United States for the Sharjah-headquartered port operator and says the company is in talks to add two more terminals to its portfolio.

Flemming Dalgaard, a former executive at Dubai state-owned DP World, was appointed chief executive of the privately-owned Gulftainer on March 1 after joining the company in August of last year.

Dalgaard, an industry veteran for 30 years, is now tasked with developing the company’s ports in the UAE, Iraq, Brazil, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the US, and bringing new terminals into the portfolio.

“We’re looking at two specific ports at the moment,” he told Gulf News in a phone interview on Wednesday, declining to reveal details about the locations.

“We’re in negotiations. Whether they are going to be completed in the first quarter, I probably doubt it, but I’ll be optimistic and think something would happen this year,” he said.

Dalgaard will meet with the board next month when he says he will outline his strategy for Gulftainer.

“Certainly my plans will include expansion in both new projects and new territories,” he said.

US east coast

The Middle East, Africa and South East Asia represent good opportunities, Dalgaard said, while adding that Gulftainer is interested in ports on the US east coast.

Gulftainer entered the US market last year when it took over operations at Florida’s Port Canaveral. Its entrance into the market was met with some political opposition over concerns of a Middle East-based company operating US ports. The opposition soon fizzled out though in 2006 when DP World was forced to sell US port assets due to similar concerns and opposition.

On Wednesday, Gulftainer announced a 4 per cent year-on-year increase in container volume handled across its terminals in 2015. The company did not provide the number of containers handled. It said volumes in its Khorfakken terminal in Sharjah grew by 9 per cent.

Speaking to Gulf News, Dalgaard said its terminal in Recife, Brazil, “is not performing as we would like it to.” The Brazilian economy is expected to stay in recession this year after contracting by 3.8 per cent in 2015.

No decision on Brazil

“The indication is [there will be] no improvement on the horizon over the next 12 to 15 months,” he said.

Dalgaard said the company has made no decision over whether it would divest its Brazilian asset if it continues to underperform.

Sharjah conglomerate Crescent Enterprise owns a 50 per cent stake and holds management control of Gulftainer. The holders of the remaining stake has not been divulged.

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