The soon-to-be chief executive of Grindrod Shipping Holdings, Martyn Wade, believes acquisition opportunities exist. Photo: Supplied
JOHANNESBURG - The transformation of South Africa's maritime industry has received a boost with listed integrated logistics service supplier Grindrod selling Unicorn Bunker Services, its bunker division, to a women empowerment group and black-owned and managed ship broking firm.

Grindrod, which last month reported that it had decided to sell and separately list its loss-making shipping business on the US Nasdaq Stock Exchange, with a secondary inward listing on the JSE, said yesterday (wed) that it had sold Unicorn Bunker Services to Women in Oil and Energy South Africa (Woesa) and Linsen Nambi for an undisclosed amount.

The company said the transaction was financed through the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and had facilitated the participation of black women and black youth in the maritime sector and created the first 100 percent black shipowners in the country. 

Russell Burns, the chief executive of Unicorn Bunker Services, said the transaction supported the government’s agenda of transformation and as a company Grindrod was honoured and proud to be part of this historic achievement and the process of skills transfer  and improving the transformation profile of the South African maritime industry.

Unicorn Bunker Services was a division of Grindrod Freight Services and employed 110 people.

It was first established in 2006 and operates three modern bunker tankers in the ports of Durban and Cape Town under contract to BP, Engen and Chevron that have been designed and built to meet and exceed the safety and operational requirements of all the oil majors.

Khumo Ntlha, the chief executive of Woesa, a broad-based women empowerment company with more than 1 000 shareholders, said Woesa was excited about the acquisition and looked  forward to growing the business to greater heights together with staff and our partners.

“This acquisition provides another opportunity to expose our members to the maritime industry,” she said. 

Woesa Investment Holdings was born out of the Association of Women in Oil and Energy South Africa and was focused on facilitating women’s participation in business opportunities in the oil, gas and energy sector in South Africa.

Thuso Mhlambi, a director Linsen Nambi, which was established in 2012 by a a group of experienced black maritime professionals, said transformation of the maritime sector had been a key focus of Linsen Nambi for many year.

“This deal is the first of its kind in South Africa but hopefully not the last,” he said. 

Since its establishment, Linsen Nambi has expanded its service offering to include inland haulage, warehousing, supply chain management and distribution.

- BUSINESS REPORT