MERGING TOWARD GREATNESS

Dubai 2018 | MARITIME | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Capt. Rado Antolovic, CEO & Managing Director of Maritime Services Division DP World and CEO of Dubai DryDocks World (DDW), on maritime services, sustainable growth, and overhauling large LNG vessels.

DDW was recently acquired by DP World. How has the integration of activities gone thus far, and how does DDW strengthen DP World's maritime services business?

We integrated Drydocks World, P&O Maritime, P&O Ports, P&O Marinas and Dubai Maritime City into one group, the Maritime Services Division (MSD) of DP World. Consolidating these companies improves their efficiency and effectiveness, through beneficial synergies across the group in enhanced specialized services, refined business strategies that maximize the skills of each entity, and streamlined processes to achieve significant improvements. Before the official integration of the companies, we spent a long time on the necessary due diligence, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each company, which is key to successful integration. We found a number of great aspects, as well as some required improvement areas. Now we are developing and aligning the companies, implementing changes to evolve the competitive position of each entity under MSD. Being associated with the large DP World Group provides massive potential. In Dubai, we have the largest single-company operated port, and there are 25,000 different vessels coming through the port. Together MSD has around 320 vessels of all kinds, with these vessels requiring maintenance and rebuilds, that can benefit from services within the group. We have also considered the competitive environment in our business with Saudi Arabia recently announcing that it will invest in the Gulf's biggest and most modern shipyard. We are aware of these developments and understand how to position ourselves to remain competitive and continue capturing business. To succeed in today's constantly changing global marketplace, the newly formed MSD group is structured to adapt to new conditions, continuously improve business processes and upgrade facilities with innovative technology. At Drydocks World, the yard benefits from an excellent location in the center of Dubai—a city that aims to be the cleanest in the world, and we would like to follow this excellent environmental objective. We want to bring added value through the testing services available in our marine section and restructure Drydocks World to utilize solar for our energy needs. Drydocks World is skilled in producing specialized vessels, including high-quality tugs, and we have a number of projects globally that are focused on creating innovative vessels. The yard can do many other specialized work, such as construction of crane frames, since we have the most sophisticated and diversified engineering welding team. We were recently approached by the UK Atomic Energy Authority to produce special cylinders for a nuclear station, and we are also working with international banks and oil firms to clean the unused and derelict rigs polluting the North Sea. Drydocks World is an open-minded company that is always looking for ways to grow and expand; under the MSD group, the yard can draw on synergies from our other business units to create improved strengthened performance.

With oil prices on the rise in the past year, what opportunities do you see for your offshore services and other oil-related activities?

Drydocks World wins a large number of tenders and consistently delivers a superior quality of service. We have diversified into a more production-oriented repair and maintenance business and we will continue working in the gas industry, with numerous LNG vessel projects. The yard also has quite a number of rig and turret projects ongoing and we plan to have a core business that can bring new technology overhauls. The real offshore opportunities are in removing obsolete vessels; positioning Drydocks World as an expert in vessel removal will put us in an advantageous position. Our Global Offshore Services team can provide maintenance and engineering quickly and efficiently for different types of vessels, at any offshore locations worldwide, bringing the expertise in our yard globally.

What new business do you plan to capture?

We are negotiating with clients from various sectors, including the navy & passenger vessel owners, to create tailored innovative solutions to meet their specific needs. We also hope to capture more business overhauling the large LNG vessels: at the moment, we have 23% more business going on than at the same time in 2017. The yard is currently working at 100% capacity, and improvements are being made to this capacity by sharpening our focus to ensure all business processes are more efficient. New specialized people are being hired, and additional capital expenditures are being evaluated for robotic technology in the yard. At Drydocks World we are not worried about competition, and rather take it as an impetus to be better. Our diverse services and facilities are capable of handling any type of vessel, are situated near to the largest port and economic free zone, as well as in close proximity to the Dubai city center and marinas. We are carefully positioning ourselves correctly in the market, to ensure our abilities capture all the industry growth opportunities in a competitive way.

What are some of the catalysts for growth for Dubai's maritime sector?

Currently, China is the major hub of maritime activity, though Dubai's importance remains, considering the amount of vessels moving through the region. Historically, Dubai is a maritime city, and we continue this proud tradition. In order to be a hub, we need to offer a full scope of services, since Dubai indeed attracts many types of maritime activity. Drydocks World has acted to ensure that we do not negatively impact the ecology and health of the city, or degrade the environment. To this end, the yard recently installed additional filters to our dry docks, in order to ensure that the water going back to the ocean is clean. Sustainable growth is of great importance, and alongside the development of our yard, we will continue to take the right steps to preserving the surrounding ecosystems.

What is your outlook for the year ahead?

Drydocks World is fortunate to have a visionary chairman and the largest dry dock facilities, which are great assets to achieve growth. We are now properly restructuring the company and aligning ourselves with projects of every type and size. On-time delivery and quality services are highly valued in the market, and are of the utmost importance in the yard. As we continue to invest and diversify, I am confident we will continue to grow. Drydocks World has over 240 clients, which is significant but not satisfactory. We are looking to create value-added services that will attract new clients. We have worked to outfit and repair some of the most high-profile and expensive yachts in the world. This is a niche market that requires gifted workers with excellent skills, and an area in which I foresee growth. The yard is positioned to offer excellent services to many areas of our operations, including yachts, navy vessels and advanced specialized ships. Innovation and technology play a central theme in our outlook and strategy going forward, and will act as a catalyst for our business to advance ahead. 2018 is full of opportunity and growth for Drydocks World, as well as the MSD group; by thinking ahead, innovating and adapting to change, we will generate significant growth in our global services.