Oman logistics group Asyad looks abroad for possible expansion

PUBLISHED: Thu, 15 Jul 2021 12:05:47 GMT

* Asyad may divest from Sohar port operating firm

* Firm seeks to expand in freight forwarding, courier

* Post-pandemic recovery eyed in East Africa, India

By Hadeel Al Sayegh and Davide Barbuscia

DUBAI, July 15 (Reuters) – Oman’s state-owned Asyad is considering buying ports and terminals abroad and could divest assets outside its core logistics business, such as a college and project management operation, its chief executive said on Thursday.

The plans by the company, which is owned by the Oman Investment Authority, align with the small oil producing Gulf state’s broader strategy to reduce reliance on crude revenues and expand its non-oil industries.

Chief Executive Abdulrahman Salim Al Hatmi told Reuters the company’s mandate included engaging with the private sector in Oman and attracting foreign investment.

“International growth has been part of our strategy, whether it’s ports or freight forwarding,” he said. “Our objective is to look at all the assets that the government has invested in – in Oman – put them together and integrate them.”

Asyad, with $5 billion of assets, focuses on logistics, transportation, port services, shipping and free zones.

Hatmi said there were still some missing elements in the company’s portfolio, such as freight forwarding, courier and parcel services and a temperature-controlled supply chain.

“We have a fantastic wealth of fishery in Oman, we want to support the food market in Oman, so we are looking at expanding some activities in that area that can help us fill the gap,” he said.

He said the company wanted to expand in areas such as shipping, land transport, and air transport ahead of an expected post-pandemic economic jump in East Africa and India.

To support its expansion plans and organic growth, Asyad would decide by the end of the year whether to raise debt via bonds or loans, Hatmi said, adding that bonds were “one of the instruments we are looking at”.

Hatmi said the company was considering divesting non-core assets, which included a college, as well as project management and public transport activities, such as buses and ferries.

He also said Asyad was considering divesting from Hutchison Ports Sohar, a joint venture operator owned by Asyad, Hutchison Ports and other shareholders. It runs a container facility at Sohar Port which lies in the Gulf of Oman, near the busy Strait of Hormuz shipping lane.

(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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