APM Terminals Bahrain, which operates the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, is experiencing a surge in profitability thanks to a recent tariff increase and operational improvements, according to Fawzi Kanoo, the company’s deputy chairman.

Mr Kanoo, who is also the deputy chairman of the YBA Kanoo Group that owns 16 per cent stake in APM Terminals Bahrain, was speaking during a Ramadan ghabga hosted by the group last week.

Highlighting “very good and constantly improving” performance at the port, citing upcoming project reveals that could further enhance its standing, Mr Kanoo attributed part of the recent gains to a long-standing agreement with the Bahraini government that allows for periodic tariff adjustments.

“There was a delay in implementing this raise,” Mr Kanoo explained, “but after we met the government’s requirements, the new tariff structure came into effect at the beginning of this year. This is a positive sign for our profitability in the coming year.”

The port itself has also seen operational improvements, with the group’s deputy chairman noting a shift to 24/7 operations. He praised APM Terminals’ experience in managing ports worldwide, referencing their portfolio of 66 facilities.

These improvements seem to be attracting Saudi businesses, with Mr Kanoo reporting a rise in Saudi imports flowing through Khalifa Bin Salman Port. He credited the port’s efficiency and rapid container handling times for this shift. However, Mr Kanoo acknowledged a bottleneck at the King Fahad Causeway, a bridge connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which can cause delays for trucks transporting containers.

“We are working collaboratively with customs and the causeway authority to address this issue,” Mr Kanoo said. “There’s a good level of co-operation from Saudi Arabian agencies, and we’re hopeful for a swift resolution.”

In a move signalling a generational shift, Mr Kanoo announced he will not seek re-election to the board of the National Bank of Bahrain.

Having served on the board for 14 years he cited a desire to create space for “highly qualified young people and new ideas.”

Expressing his belief that “the old generation took our chance” and now it’s time for fresh perspectives, Mr Kanoo praised Bahrain’s youthful leadership, noting the “young and energetic ministers,” and argued that a similar infusion of energy is needed in the country’s institutions.

He pointed out that electing boards, a growing trend in Bahrain, provides a platform for young talent to gain leadership experience.

He highlighted the “flexibility and openness” of the younger generation, their intellectual curiosity, and their adeptness with technology – qualities he believes are crucial for navigating the modern business landscape.

He also offered a glimpse into the upcoming Kanoo Museum, a celebration of the family’s 130-year legacy in the region, slated to open by the year-end.

Mr Kanoo identified a loophole in Bahrain’s bankruptcy law as a major hurdle for his company.

“The biggest challenge we face,” Mr Kanoo said, “arises when construction companies we hire to build projects declare bankruptcy. They shield themselves under the law, and we lose our investment with no legal recourse. This has happened to many companies, and it’s a significant issue.”

Mr Kanoo urged Bahraini authorities to address the gap in legislation. “We need laws that protect the rights of contractors and investors when the construction companies they work with go bankrupt,” he said.

Looking ahead, however, Mr Kanoo expressed optimism about increased Saudi investment in Bahrain, citing a recent memorandum of understanding between the sovereign wealth funds of the two nations with a $5 billion of investment committed to the kingdom as a result.

Also present during the event at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention and Spa’s Ramadan tent were YBA Kanoo Group directors Nabeel Kanoo and Ahmed Fawzi Kanoo and Kanoo Real Estate chairman Talal Fawzi Kanoo.

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