Khamis Juma Buamim, the chairman of Drydocks World, has spent his first two years as head of the Dubai World subsidiary grappling with its debt problems - and defining a growth strategy. With the company's debts totalling US$2.2 billion (Dh8.08bn) about to be restructured, and its future mapped out, Mr Buamim spoke to The National about the way ahead at his office in the midst of the Dubai shipyard next to Port Rashid.
What is your growth strategy?
We transformed company strategy in late 2010. We … are driving towards servicing the oil and gas sector. Oil and gas is becoming almost 80 per cent of our business. We are a marine-based organisation. We had to think seriously what would happen in the next 15 to 25 years, and we plotted it out. The data indicated that the only industry that has a growth cycle up to 2030 in some cases is the energy industry.
How are you looking to grow your business?
We have to be ahead of everyone. It's a game, and you have to be ahead. [We are working on] cutting-edge technology, [including] two megaships in Dubai we're converting … to have the ability to [mop up oil or] any leak. We're capable of talking to our clients, understanding their needs, and coming up with something that they really must have. There will be no new hubs. Unfortunately, the downturn did not help a lot of the business that we have.
What are your short-term goals this year?
Going from a repair shipyard to a multifunctional yard. Therefore, we are doing a yard management process at the moment, and we are looking at every bit of space that can be utilised, because we are running out of space.
You say the restructuring of your $2.2bn debt will be completed by mid-July, and you seem satisfied with the outcome.
We had overleveraged, we overbought things, we should not have done it. But there is a difference between a company that is dying and one that is ongoing and strong. Our restructuring is without a doubt a model.
You have not tapped the debt market since the restructuring process started two years ago. How do you plan to finance your operations going forward?
We need to target the efficiency side; there is still too much fat in this company, and we need to scrape it off. We're talking about cost management. There are millions of ways to bring in money without putting your neck out.
* Florian Neuhof
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