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In January 2020, Israel’s government gave the final green light for the privatization of the country’s biggest port, the Port of Haifa.
Under the plan, the state wants to sell all its shares in the port to an investor with proven experience in the container sector. Under the terms of the privatization tender, the winner will obtain a concession of the port valid until 2054.
The government wants at least NIS 1 billion (USD 289 million) for the privatization of the port.
It is estimated that around 200 workers would retire with severance pay as part of the process.
The sale is expected to be completed in one year.
Israeli businessman Eli Tilles, who won the tender for the privatization of the Port of Eilat in 2014, is in advanced talks with foreign partners interested in forming a joint venture company and bid for the tender.
The talks are covering the potential to co-own and operate the cargo and passenger ports, and are yet to be finalized.
However, he is still willing to consider interest from other companies.
Tilles has an envious experience in the maritime sector. He was the CEO of Israel’s national shipping company, as well as deputy CEO of Israel Railways and deputy CEO of the Israel Ports Company.
In addition, he established a shipping company that owns anchor handling tugs in South Africa, a company that owns cargo vessels in Cyprus, and is setting up a national shipping company in the Pacific Ocean.
He is also a two-time winner of the Kaplan Award, the highest award for management efficiency in Israel.
“When people hear about a government privatization tender they think money is waiting for them on the floor, they just need to pick it up. That’s wrong. You must have experience, knowledge and, especially, leadership to guide the management and labor in the right direction. Most importantly, you need to change their environment from being a government-supported company to a private business environment,” Tilles told our publication in an interview.
Tilles is quite confident in his ability to win the tender, as he believes knowledge about ports and shipping is not something you can just learn, it has to be in your blood and that is key to success.
When asked about the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the tender, Israeli businessman replied the government will work on speeding up the tender as they need all the money they can get at the moment.
Port of Haifa
Tilles pointed out to numerous advantages of the Port of Haifa, including strong cargo throughput of 29 million tons a year as well as sound infrastructure secured over the course of the past six years with numerous investments.
The port’s stevedores are extremely professional and loyal, he said, adding that the union’s signature is critical for the tender to be approved.
Speaking on his plans for the port, Tilles said that his major focus would be increasing cruise calls at the port and investing in modernizing the existing cruise terminal.
He insists that he would turn “every stone” to boost the port’s efficiency from every possible aspect.
World Maritime News Staff; Image Courtesy: Port of Haifa