Rado Antolovic, CEO & Managing Director, DP World – Maritime Services Division: Investments in Novi Sad will exceed €30 million

In September, the Port of Novi Sad officially became a part of the global chain operated by DP World from the United Arab Emirates. The new owner purchased the Port of Novi Sad inc. for €7.99 million and the contract was made in May 2019.

In an exclusive interview for PlutonLogistics, the CEO & Managing Director, DP World – Maritime Services Division, Rado Antolovic talks about the plans for the Port of Novi Sad in the field of cargo traffic.

PL: Tell us something about the DP World Company. How much experience do you have in dealing with inland ports?

– DP World is the leading enabler of global trade and an integral part of the supply chain. We manage multiple related businesses – from marine and inland terminals, marine services, logistics, and ancillary services, to technology-driven trade solutions. Our portfolio of more than 150 operations in 46 countries across six continents gives us a significant presence both in high-growth and mature markets.

PL: What were the reasons for buying the Port of Novi Sad? What kind of potential did you recognize in this port on the Danube River?

– Serbian agricultural production amounts to approximately 10m to 14m tons of grains and cereals per annum. Novi Sad is ideally located on the river Danube in the center of the grain production areas in Serbia. The Vojvodina region, where Port of Novi Sad is located, accounts for 70% of the cereals market in Serbia. The Port of Novi Sad was the last remaining state-owned port to be privatized. Currently, the export market handles between 2m to 3m tons which are split between truck and barge. Novi Sad currently occupies around 60% share of the barge export market. Investment in new equipment and operational efficiencies will solidify this market share thereby providing further opportunity to increase the existing volumes handled in the port.

PL: What kind of business operation did you find? What will be your first steps?

The privatization process for Novi Sad provided an opportunity for POP (DPW) to acquire an underperforming state-run asset and transform it into a modern and efficient facility through a phased approach on investments, and to introduce operational methodologies in line with best international practices. With an annual throughput of approximately 1m tons, the planned investments and operational efficiencies will allow the port to position itself as the premium facility in Serbia.

PL: What is your long-term financial plan?

– There is a committed capital investment requirement outlined in the Share Purchase Agreement between the Government of Serbia and POP (DPW) which dictates the long term financial plan prepared for the Port of Novi Sad. In addition, a further investment beyond the SPA stipulation will be determined by business needs and requirements. As it stands, the investment in Novi Sad will exceed €30 million – for the duration of the contract signed.

PL: What are your plans when it comes to cargo traffic? What is the greatest potential here?

– The strategy for cargo traffic is to consolidate and grow the existing cargo being handled in the Port of Novi Sad, with further initiatives for further diversification, thereby providing an opportunity to handle additional cargo support by investing in new handling equipment.

PL: Will you be cooperating with other transportation companies?

– Building synergies with other service providers will beincluded in our diversification strategy.

PL: When it comes to freight transport, what kind of customers do you expect to obtain?

– We expect to obtain a diverse range of customers in line with our existing cargo company base and diversification of our strategy in the field of transport and cargo handling.

PL: What are your future plans when it comes to the field of freight transport?

– We look at opportunities wherever they may be. We are diversifying to complement our core business of ports and terminals, developing logistics, industrial parks, and zones and marine services to complement what we are dealing with across the supply chain. This will offer other possibilities as we move forward while bringing additional value to our customers and partners.

PL: What would you say about importance of Serbian market for the DP World?

– The importance of the Port of Novi Sad opportunity is in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of Serbia and POP (DP World) on the 24th May 2018 and in line with investments by other UAE based companies, thereby further strengthening relations between the UAE and Serbia.


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