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DP World eyes growth in Africa, Latin America

Chairman optimistic about company’s performance in 2017 despite challenges

Gulf News

Dubai: DP World, the Nasdaq Dubai-listed ports operator, is planning to continue expanding in 2017, and is eyeing growth in Africa, Latin America, and the Far East despite its projections for 2017 to be “another challenging year.”

Sultan Bin Sulayem, group chairman and chief executive officer of DP World Group, said the company will also continue to look for opportunities for growth in the US, though it hasn’t found any propositions so far.

“We are optimistic about Latin America; that’s why we’re expanding and building, for example, in Ecuador. We are optimistic about Africa, as usual, and our business is doing well in all our terminals in Africa. Europe is improving, and so I can see growth there,” he said.

On top of those, the chairman said DP World is also still exploring opportunities for investment in Russia after signing a deal in September with a Russian firm to look into investing in ports, special economic zones, and logistics facilities.

“We continue to look for opportunities in Russia with our partners. There are a few deals on the table today; it is just a matter of negotiations, and as soon as we are ready with the partners, we will sign,” Bin Sulayem said during a media conference call to discuss the company’s financial results.

DP World reported on Monday $1.13 billion (Dh4.15 billion) in net profit for 2016, marking a 28 per cent year-on-year increase, while revenues rose around 5 per cent to reach $4.16 billion.

In the company’s financial statement, Bin Sulayem said 2017 is set to be yet another challenging year for global trade. The chairman said he was optimistic, however, that DP World can continue to perform strongly in 2017.

“If you remember, in 2016, [there was] a lot of pessimism … Now, our customer numbers show they’re doing better, so I’m happy about that, and this is what is making me optimistic,” he said.

Asked whether he was concerned about an impact from protectionist policies coming out from the US administration, Bin Sulayem said, “It is my belief that even when (US President) Donald Trump talks about trade, he’s talking about fair trade and he’s trying to balance trade with other countries. I don’t believe this news of protectionism is going to affect trade — I think it’s going to put discipline on trade, but I’m not really pessimistic.”

During 2016, DP World raised $1.2 billion in a seven-year sukuk transaction, which was to refinance $1.1 billion of the existing sukuk. Bin Sulayem did not rule out issuing more sukuk this year, saying that would depend on market conditions.