Dubai-based ports operator DP World is eying concessions in between five and seven Latin American ports in the next year, according to the company’s chief operating officer, Mahmood Al Bastaki.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Global Business Forum Latin America 2019 in Panama City, Al Bastaki said that DP World “has a big focus” on the region.
“There are lots of ports that require advanced equipment and know-how,” he said, noting that DP World already has a presence in Peru, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, where in January it acquired a 71.3 percent stake in port operator Pulogsa.
In the pipeline, Al Bastaki said that there are “five or seven ports” in which concession announcements are expected over the course of the next year.
“It’s all under negotiation,” he said. “We’d do concession agreements, and we’d prefer long-term ones. A port is a long-term investment. Wherever we go, we do capacity building, we create jobs for the local economy and local talent have an opportunity to get into a strategic business.”
According to Al Bastaki, Latin America is a particularly attractive region for DP World because of its relative stability compared with other parts of the world.
“It (Latin America) is in good shape. Lately Venezuela has been having some problems, but other than that, the whole continent is in a safe condition,” he said.
“When there is war, [countries] won’t get into consuming or spending, and this will effect world trade. Even in our business as port terminal operators, we won’t carry much carry because there is no demand."
He added: “I expect a big growth in trade [from Latin America]. Brazil has always been the main player, due to its size and manufacturing. There’s been a little bit of a slowdown, but this is bound to grow.”
In 2018, DP World invested $3 billion in diversifying its global business portfolio.
Among its projects were the acquisition of an 100 percent stake in a Peruvian logistics firm, Cosmos Agency Maritima SAC, for $315 million.
The acquisition of the company, which also operates freight services, gave DP World a 50 percent stake in Terminales Portuarios Euroandinos SA in the Peruvian port of Paita, the second largest container terminal in the country.
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