ALAN Olivier achieved a critical breakthrough in 2016 when he struck a deal with Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) through which users of Grindrod’s fledgling RBT (Navitrade) coal export terminal were allowed to pay the same rail tariff as the users of the much larger Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT). The deal was crucial for the RBT at a time when its customers were being squeezed by low export prices and with export capacity readily available at the RBCT because of overall lower export volumes. It raised a few eyebrows in the coal export community because the deal is not justified on the basis of straight economics. The reason the RBCT always got a lower rail tariff was thanks to its greater efficiency in handling much larger volumes of coal. The motivating force behind the deal is clearly TFR’s strategy to diversify South Africa’s coal export channels. That suits Olivier just fine as he pushes ahead with Grindrod’s plans to increase handling volumes through the ports of Richards Bay and Maputo through investments in projects such as the expansion of the RBT, the dredging of the Maputo shipping channel, and the further expansion of the Matola dry bulk terminal at Maputo. What would really help Olivier is a recovery in the world steam coal export market. He may be getting his wish judging by recent rises in traded coal prices.
LIFE OF ALAN
He’s a CA who joined Grindrod’s shipping division in 1986 and rose through the ranks to become CEO of Unicorn Shipping in 1995 after holding senior executive financial and treasury jobs with the company. He was appointed a director of Grindrod in May 1999 and became CEO in 2007. He is also chairman of the United Kingdom Mutual Steamship Assurance Association.
“Our terminal (RBT) is operating as efficiently as it can.”
- Web Address: www.grindrod.co.za