Abu Dhabi's National Marine Dredging to allow foreigners to own 49% of its shares

The move is part of a 'positive' long-term strategy to streamline operations as it seeks to acquire more projects globally

Arial view of a dredger at work on the new Suez Canal. Courtesy NMDC *** Local Caption ***  bz06au-Suez-NMDC-04.jpg
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Abu Dhabi contractor National Marine Dredging Company said it will allow non-UAE nationals to own 49 per cent of its shares in an effort to diversify its shareholding base and boost trading of its shares.

The group's decision, effective on Thursday, will result in increased trading of the company’s shares, higher liquidity and international flows for its stock on indices including the FTSE Russell and MSCI, the company said in a statement on Thursday to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares trade.

The move is also part of a "positive" long-term plan to streamline its operations, it said.

“The group is working to improve and expand its business ... to achieve a leading global position for national companies in line with the long-term UAE Centennial 2071 vision aiming at achieving first-place positions globally in various sectors," Mohamed Alrumaithi, chairman of NMDC, said.

"The group's strategic diversification will focus on building exceptional capabilities in the energy and marine business sectors during the next stage.”

NMDC — an engineering, procurement, construction and marine dredging contractor active in the Middle East and North Africa — has posted strong fiscal performance as the UAE’s economy continues to rebound from the pandemic.

It reported a more than nine-fold jump in its 2021 net profit to Dh1 billion ($272.3 million), with revenue surging 78 per cent

NMDC’s net profit in the first quarter of 2022 also more than doubled to Dh65.3m. Revenue jumped by about a third, primarily driven by the Hail and Ghasha offshore fields in the UAE and long-term agreements with Saudi Aramco.

NMDC signed an agreement in January with Dredging Corporation of India to expand its presence in the Indian subcontinent, the Gulf region and Africa to further boost growth.

The global dredging market is projected to reach a value of $15.7bn in 2022 and grow at a compound annual rate of more than 3 per cent to hit $21.4bn by 2032, according to data from market research firm Fact.MR.

The demand for energy infrastructure in application is likely to increase at a growth rate of close to 5 per cent over the 2022 to 2032 period, it said.

NMDC's decision is aimed at strengthening its position in the industry, with its long-term strategy underlined by the efficient use of resources, cost optimisation, supply chain management and increased productivity across all levels.

“We will continue to work to consolidate the group’s success that was reflected in its first quarter financial performance and the record profits achieved in 2021. The group has emerged as a global leader ... adding more operational value to all its operations," group chief executive Yasser Zaghloul told state news agency Wam.

The group's strategic diversification will focus on building exceptional capabilities in the energy and marine business sectors during the next stage
Mohamed Thani Alrumaithi, chairman of National Marine Dredging Company

NMDC’s current contract volume exceeds Dh40bn in eight regions, including GCC, the Middle East, North Africa, India, the Maldives, Seychelles and South-East Asia. It is also set to start its operations in Europe.

The company is exploring potential acquisitions in South East Asia, South Asia and Europe, Mr Zaghloul said

“The company is implementing the state's strategy to build a sustainable economy, keep up with changing times, provide job opportunities, qualify national talent and enhance and support economic growth through our projects aimed at improving economic infrastructure," he said.

"The acquisitions that the company seeks to make aim to reduce risks, open new markets and increase shareholder returns.”

NMDC's operations span key industry verticals, including ports and civil projects, refining and petrochemical operations, onshore operations, renewable energy, deep sea operations and other related projects. The value of the group's assets increased by three quarters to almost Dh13bn at the end of 2021.

Updated: April 28, 2022, 1:46 PM