Greece’s Navios Maritime Holdings has sent its chief financial officer to Argentina to oversee expansion at its South American subsidiary.

The US-listed company has appointed George Achniotis as chief executive of Navios South American Logistics (NSAL), which owns three ports and eight small clean tankers.

Navios Holdings chief executive Angeliki Frangou told a conference call that Achniotis has moved to Buenos Aires on a full-time basis.

“George and I have worked together for over 20 years and I am confident in his leadership,” she said.

Frangou added that Achniotis has also worked closely with NSAL for many years.

“So this move was natural,” she said.

Frangou sees “a large commercial opportunity in the region”.

But she admitted that this may take some time to develop.

Frangou said Navios Holdings owns 53.8% of NSAL.

Operations are focused on grain and mining exports through the Hidrovia river system in Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as coastal tanker operations.

Ioannis Karyotis, strategic planning senior vice president at Navios Holdings, said grain exports have risen 45% in the first nine months through its port in Uruguay.

As for tankers, “cabotage market conditions are improving”, he told the call.

Rates rising

In the first three quarters, Karyotis said employment is up 15% and charter rates are gradually rising following rate hikes for product carriers worldwide.

Navios wants to grow NSAL’s infrastructure and related logistics assets due to the renewed global focus on food and energy security.

Karyotis becomes chief operating officer at the South American subsidiary and will be replaced as its CFO by Enrique Ferrando.

Achniotis, who had been CFO of Navios Holdings since 2007, was previously a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Greece, heading the Piraeus office and the firm’s shipping practice.

He is also a director and executive vice president for business development at Navios Maritime Partners — the group’s main shipowning company.