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Patrick Bitature to chair Bollore Uganda Board, as French logistics outfit is rumoured to exit African market

By Daniel Otto

Prominent Ugandan businessman, Patrick Bitature has been appointed the chairman of the Board of the Uganda entity of  Bollore Logistics and Transport. This amid simmering news that the French logistics giant may be considering selling off its African assets and quitting its hitherto profitable entity.

The Bollore Group traces its origins to 1822 when it was founded by French entrepreneur, Bollore. Today, the 100 year old outfit,  is one of the 500 largest companies in the world, and remains under the control of its founding family, the Bollores. Its current CEO is Vincent Bollore, deputised by his son, Cyrille Bollore. It is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange, and today has interests in transport and logistics, energy, media and communications and electric cars.

Its Africa division is reportedly one if its most profitable.

Bitature last week announced in a self-issued statement, “I am humbled to be appointed as the new Chairman of the Board of the Ugandan subsidiary of Bollore Transport & Logistics….probably the biggest logistics company in Arica.”

He said the appointment had come at a time when Uganda needs a reliable partner as the quantity of the country’s  imports and exports continues to grow. “Our exports and imports are increasing as more and more people get interested and invested in our economy. As a result we are seeing an increase in the goods our country produces and exports. A good example of this is coffee, we currently export 7 million bags of coffee annually but that number is fast increasing,” he said.

“Our exports and important will also step up soon to include the long awaited oil and gas industry infrastructure. This means creating more jobs for East Africans in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania.”

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to get a tough job done well and in time, give it to a busy but reliable person.” I am honoured that Bollore LT Uganda has found me to be such a person.”

“It is with my country’s need that I accept this appointment.”

Last week, Transport Intelligence, a global research and analytics provider in logistics, quoting the French Newspaper Le Monde,  reported that there is simmering news that the owner of the French logistics giant may be contemplating selling off its African assets and is looking for a buyer.

Transport Intelligence quoted Le Monde as reporting from “collaborating sources” that Bolloré Group, of which Bolloré Logistics is an important part, has instructed Morgan Stanley, the American Investment Bank and financial services provider,  to explore options for the sale of its logistics assets in Africa.

According to Transport Intelligence, “Whether or not this (the sale rumour) is accurate, Bolloré’s African assets certainly might be attractive to the large shipping lines and container terminal companies that have sought to diversify into inland services.”

It said, “However, it should be noted that Bolloré’s business in Africa, whilst highly profitable, has not been without incident. Vincent Bolloré has only just shaken off a series of court cases around his relationship with the President of Guinea and the allocation of port concessions in the country. Indeed, it appears that Bolloré’s strength in the region’s logistics is due in part to its insight into the politics and economics of Africa.”

In Uganda, Bolloré Transport & Logistics was established in 1968, most recently rebranding from SDV Transami. With its  main offices located in Ntinda, Kampala,  it has branch offices in Entebbe, Malaba, Busia and border points Mpondwe/Kasese, Katuna, Mutukula, Nimule, Ntoroko. According to its local profile,  “the company offers a holistic service solution to meet all client demands for supply chain, warehousing and inventory management, customs brokerage, collateral management as well as multi-modal transport and distribution across Uganda as the hub and regionally to Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and East DRC.”

According to Transport Intelligence,” for Bolloré Group the ability to sustain this position in Africa was an important pillar of the wider Bolloré Logistics business. Its profit margins were high and it was a key strength for the company. That said, Bolloré Logistics over the past several years has been looking to expand its presence in other markets, particularly Asia Pacific and North America. Yet removing the Africa operations would still have significant implications for the whole of Bolloré Logistics and therefore it is possible that Bolloré Logistics is considering a further, wider reorientation.”

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