19th to 21st of May 2020

Jose Gonzalez Viñas, President of Hijos de J. Barreras and Navalia

“We should have been able to foretell in 1998 that we were going to expand to this extent”. Gonzalez feels that the SEPI takeover operation was “almost perfect” and that the company is currently the best it has ever been throughout its history. When asked what had changed since 1998, José Francisco González Viñas explained: “Privatisation came in 1997, approved by the Council of Ministers”. A second later he corrected himself: “No, no, it was the 9th of July 1998, when the SEPI share purchase was formalised. Ten years ago now!” He added: “I would hardly change a thing with respect to that process, it was perfect. No loose ends were left untied, no problem areas, no unresolved situations”.
Apart from a few set-backs, it seems that everything has gone well since 1998.
It has really, over these last ten years the majority of aspects have been almost perfect. It was, and still is, a model for future privatisation operations, with local partners, the workers themselves and two further partners with extensive interests in the maritime sector, two important shipbuilders. We also had the backing of a key financial partner.
The biggest upheaval must have been when Naviera del Odiel ceased to be a shareholder.
It was - their way of viewing the company was very different. They sought to maximise the profitability of investments immediately, whilst the rest of us preferred to wait and not share out dividends. Naviera and Albacora came in because they were both considered at the time as partner - clients, and, in fact, they commissioned a number of ships, not only during their period as partners but many years earlier as well.
What’s the situation like at the minute?
We are currently enjoying the best moment in the history of shipbuilding. No less than 16 boats contracted and a further 12 vessels at the project stage...
No. I was referring more to how corporate capital is shared out these days.
Shipyard partners currently account for 60% of the capital, with the rest shared equally between Albacora and the García Costas Group.
And are there any loose ends untied with respect to SEPI?
None whatsoever. What’s more, we have had a good relationship for many years now. Perfect. However, it is true to say that nowadays we regret the fact that the future potential for the shipyards were not include in the original document that we negotiated with the Government. What I mean is, for example, we should have foreseen that we were going to expand to this extent, and either increase the number of assembly platforms or else improve the installations, with a view to being able to access markets handling ships of greater length, which is precisely where we best see ourselves at the moment. Our competitors are handling smaller projects and we are able to offer greater technology, with the possibility of being able to handle greater length in the short term and, above all, rapid turnaround when it comes to delivery dates.
Apart from these figures, what has happened within the sector over the past ten years from an engineering perspective?
I can tell you that our design department now has over forty engineers working for it. These are not only maritime engineers, but also IT specialists and telecommunications engineers among others. We now have our own technical office, meaning that ship designs are now made in house, except in a very limited number of specific cases. Process automation is now almost total, something which could never have occurred prior to privatisation. (Source: La Voz de Galicia).

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