It’s business-as-usual at Muscat port, says operator

By Conrad Prabhu — MUSCAT: Dec 31: Port Services Corporation (PSC) has pledged uninterrupted operations at Port Sultan Qaboos following last week’s decision by the Ministry of Transport and Communications to extend the Corporation’s concession to run the maritime gateway for an additional 12 months till the end of this year. “It’s going to be business as usual going into 2017,” said a senior official when asked about the dramatic events of the past week, which saw the government acceding to the Corporation’s terms for the continued operation of the port. Under those terms, all nine shipping berths will remain under PSC’s operational control, the official said.
This is in contrast to the Ministry’s previous proposal to limit the Corporation’s operational authority to around half the number of berths, while placing the remaining half under the control of Omran, the government’s tourism development arm tasked with driving the development of the Mina Al Sultan Qaboos Waterfront Project.
“With all nine berths now under PSC management, we are assured of the financial and operational viability that comes with administering a full-fledged port, as opposed to a truncated facility proposed under the previous offer,” the official noted.
“We look forward to another year of profitable operations driven primarily by the cruise shipping business, and port calls by naval ships. Cruise line calls are projected to be around 20 per cent higher than the corresponding number for 2016 and, with our solid investment portfolio continuing to generate healthy dividends, 2017 should be profitable year for the Corporation.”
Formal ratification of last week’s accord is expected at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of shareholders scheduled for some time this month. “An EGM has to be convened in order to reverse the Corporation’s earlier decision to go into liquidation effective from January 1, 2017. Now that the concession has been extended, shareholders representing at least 75 per cent of the equity must agree to rescind the liquidation decision, which in all likelihood will happen,” the official explained.
Pending the decision of the EGM, PSC will remain listed on the ‘Under-Monitoring Market’, the Capital Market Authority (CMA) in a circular issued in the wake of the government’s decision to extend the Corporation’s license by 12 months.