Topaz Energy & Marine CEO comments on being acquired by DP World for $1.1bn

Topaz Energy & Marine CEO René Kofod-Olsen dropped by our studio to discuss the company being acquired by DP World, its H1 2019 results, and its future. Watch the video, or read the full Q&A below.

How do you expect being acquired by DP World will impact your business?

DP World is a giant in logistics, and they have a huge ambition to be the enabler of global trade, basically no matter what market they're in. For us, coming under that umbrella having gone through quite a giant growth step ourselves over the last six or seven years will enable us to go the next step.

Your H1 results were staggering. You saw a lot of growth, so what are some of the key factors that impacted your numbers and helped swing you upwards?

The biggest part is our solutions business. What is our solution business? We took a punt, three or four years ago, that marine logistics would be one of the branches out that we would do from traditional shipping. So, we won a very large contract into Kazakhstan for the Tengiz oil field. And we basically innovated a bespoke vessel to navigate the Russian river system.

From that, we we landed this very big contract and at 100% utilisation this year, having delivered everything basically ahead of time. I think we have proven that this company could penetrate offshore marine logistics, and it is certainly a segment that we expect and we will expand much further. And I also believe, to your earlier questions, that DP World, who acquired us, also did that for the skillset that we have acquired in the marine logistics segment.

One of the features that DP World noted when they announced the acquisition was your $1.5bn backlog. How much of that comes from the Middle East and North Africa?

We have actually grown in the Middle East this year, but it is still not the biggest portion of of our backlog. The biggest portion of our backlog is the Caspian Sea, specifically, and then marine logistics, which I just mentioned. That contract is, of course, a huge part of our backlog. Middle East is currently about 10%, and the the the African subcontinent is about the same percentage. We expect that to grow, and we are seeing good traction in Saudi Arabia and in the UAE. The Middle East has always been a strategic segment for us. We are basically at plus 90% utilisation in the Middle East today, which which means that we can probably, in the near future, add more capacity even in this market.

What's your outlook for the second half of this year?

Constructive. We never we never speculate on that on that publicly, but it is constructive. We are delivering high 80s utilisation. That also stems from that large backlog that you asked me about. Why is it that we are having this large backlog? We have more of a contracting model in Topaz Energy & Marine, and we like to have predictable business going forward. So, we don't have a lot of vessels that are in the spot market. That means that we are probably a little bit more conservative, and a little bit better in forecasting how our results are going to play out.

More generally, what are the biggest growth opportunities for Topaz going forward?

I want to come back to your initial question on DP World, and maybe why they were interested in this company. They have invested a lot in the marine segment, over the years, and I think this acquisition and the interest they had been in acquiring our company from from our current shareholders is that they basically see an expansion in the whole marine logistics segment. They have a huge presence in in logistics globally. They have a huge presence in ports and so tying that together with some of the marine aspects of the industry, I think, is a smart move.

I think we can come in and make a difference that matters in offshore marine logistics, and both in energy and in general, to create solutions that will enhance both the port businesses, certainly, but also how we deliver solutions to our clients. As the chairman of DP World so succinctly mentioned, we want to be the global enabler of trade. And I think, in a small way, we can add to that incredible vision.

I think it's fantastic, we are homegrown UAE company. Topaz started in the '70s, and we have we have been looked after by great shareholders from Oman, and as you know, Standard Chartered owned part of it as well. And now being solicited and acquired by another giant UAE company, I think that's fantastic, and is very humbling for me to be product.

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