Namport is awaiting regulatory approval to gain total control of Elgin Brown and Hamer Namibia. Presently, Namport is the majority shareholder with 52.5 percent shares in EBH Namibia while DCD Group from South Africa holds the remaining 47.5 percent. The joint venture was aimed at intensifying ship repair activities that would ultimately boost job creation and economic development of Walvis Bay and surrounding communities while also providing the international shipping and local industry with all aspects of ship repair. Namport CEO, Bisey Uirab, confirmed the ports authority’s plan to assume full control of EBH Namibia but would not disclose any details. “Yes, the process is underway, we will issue a statement when the time is right,” said Uirab during a telephonic interview. Uirab also indicated that DCD Group wants out of the deal. EBH Namibia operates three privately owned floating docks in Walvis Bay Namibia with a combined capacity of 30 000 tonnes, including a Panama-size dock. The company provides marine repair solutions and has access to the 2 000-tonne synchro-lift facility of Namport.
EBH Namibia announced its stabilisation plan in April 2016, in the wake of a 50 percent decline in revenue as a result of the sustained low oil price and subsequent decrease in docking activity. The stabilisation plan included first and foremost several ‘non-HR’ performance improvement projects (PIP) and cost-cutting initiatives. “Our PIP initiatives are not only aimed at short-term cost reduction and performance improvement; but will be the essential operational ‘compass’ by which we will steer this ‘ship’ going forward to ensure that we are sustainable in the long-term,” said EBHN CEO, Hannes Uys, at the time. Retrenchments were a ‘last resort’ which was unfortunately unavoidable, given the current oil crisis and prevailing market conditions. “It was crucially important to appropriately re-size and scale the business in accordance with prevailing market conditions; in order to ensure the company’s continued viability and long-term sustainability.
When the decision to retrench employees at EBH Namibia was reached, the company employed 551 people at the time, 466 of them permanent basis and the remaining 85 are fixed-term contractors. Of the 102 employees retrenched by August 2016, according to EBH Namibia, 82 opted for voluntary separation while the remaining 20 employees had to take compulsory retrenchment. The last working day for those affected by the retrenchments was on 29 July 2016. Regarding retrenched expatriate employees, Uys said at the time that depending on market conditions and the demand for resources at that point the company would recruit Namibians to fill these positions. With prolonged low oil prices and depressed economic cycle, the company said it was imperative to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.