By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Sharjah-based Gulftainer has signed a 50-year, $600m concession to develop and operate the port of Wilmington in the US state of Delaware
There are still many “exciting” opportunities to operate ports and help establish related infrastructure and logistics networks in the United States, according to Badr Jafar, the CEO of Crescent Enterprises and chairman of the executive board of Sharjah-based Gulftainer.
In late September, Gultainer signed a 50-year, $600 million concession to develop and operate the port of Wilmington in the American state of Delaware.
Plans for the port also include the development of cargo terminal capabilities, as well as the establishment of a training facility for the ports and logistics industries that is expected to train and upskill as many as 1,000 people each year.
The deal – Gufltainer’s second foray into the US after Cape Canaveral in Florida in 2014 – is the largest investment ever made by a private UAE company in the country.
Speaking to Arabian Business in a recent interview, Jafar said that his initial thought when presented with an opportunity in the US was that it was “a saturated market for operators.”
“I thought that surely they don’t need our capital, and I imagined they had the expertise,” he said. “But the more we looked into it, the infrastructure plays and the opportunities there are very exciting.”
“There are two aspects to it. The first is dilapidated infrastructure that is in need of refurbishment and enhancement,” he added. ‘But in some cases, brand new infrastructure is required to connect new population centres together.”
While Jafar said that, at the moment, Gulftainer has no specific plans to expand to other locations in the United States, the company is on the look-out for other opportunities.
“We’ve been highly encouraged by our experienced there so far,” he said. “We’re excited about the future and as opportunities come about we’re not going to sit on our hands.”