Landowner company Anitua’s new expansion strategy


Diversified landowner company Anitua is on the comeback trail, according to Chief Executive Patrick Doekes. He tells Business Advantage PNG the Papua New Guinean landowner company is looking to streamline operations and expand its product offerings.

Credit: Anitua

Landowner company Anitua’s very growth has presented a managerial challenge to Patrick Doekes, who joined the business in July 2019 as Chief Financial Officer and became CEO in March 2020.

Anitua’s largest business is providing catering and camp management services to mining operations, but its operations also include mining and drilling services, construction, retail, insurance broking, auto services and property management.

Doekes says the group has ‘behaved like eight separate companies since the start’. One step to improved performance, he says, is to create more integration and centralise some functions, especially with the smaller lines of business.

Anitua’s catering services business, NCS, has turnover of over K100 million, but a number of the smaller subsidiaries ‘have about K20 million turnover’, he says.

‘You can’t build the right size team and skills if they all run their own little race. My objective last year was to bring them all together and to have them behave as though we are all one company.

‘So, we have one human resources function, one finance function; we have one way of doing things. That way, we free up resources to become really good at the operational businesses.’

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Doekes says reducing staff numbers may add ‘something to the bottom line’ but not enough to create the operational excellence to which he aspires.

‘Being operationally excellent is about taking our existing people and raising them up and up. We have to improve ourselves to remain viable and competitive.’

‘There is a whole world of opportunity out there. Mining is not going to go away any time soon.’

The Anitua Group was established in 1989 to provide a means for landowners to participate in the Lihir Gold project, currently the world’s seventh largest gold mine.

‘All of the mines want to work with the landowner groups,’ says Doekes. ‘If you show them that you are genuinely on the right track, they will travel that journey with you and make sure you come out of it with a sustainable profit and a decent margin.’

Supply and logistics

Credit: Anitua

Doekes describes himself as ‘a bit of turnaround specialist’, who has been involved in five company recoveries in the past.

He says he will be looking to streamline Anitua’s supply and logistics, which he acknowledges has not been as well-managed as it could have been in the past.

‘Each of the eight companies have separate procurement and eight separate accounts with major suppliers. They (suppliers) have never looked at us as one [entity]. One [Anitua] company might be paying them on time and another in 90 days. That is the low hanging fruit.’

Doekes says the company will also be making more capital investment, albeit from a low base, mostly on the mining and property side of the business.

‘We will be replacing or spending a lot of money on getting our [mining equipment] fleet up and running and performing optimally. To me, it is pointless having a Caterpillar dozer sitting in the yard three quarters working and one quarter not. Either fix it and get it 100 per cent operational or sell it. We have a 36-month replacement program around that.’

New capabilities

Credit: Anitua

Doekes’ aim, however, is to move Anitua away from being a capital-intensive group by focusing on expanding the group’s capabilities.

‘Our capability probably hasn’t changed in the last 10 years. We do security, we do construction, we do catering, we do supermarket; we haven’t expanded our capability base. So, my focus is a lot about moving into new capabilities.’

That changed strategic emphasis will include altering the range of products Anitua offers. Doekes compares the approach to what Microsoft did when it took its individual products and aggregated them all under Microsoft Office.

‘We will sell you a package of services and that package [will be] focused much more on stuff that happens outside of the mine rather than inside the mine. There is a whole world that happens outside that mine gate, from town maintenance to accommodation management to flight management to logistics. There is such a scope for collaboration and the more clients we have, the more we can collaborate.’

‘There is a whole world of opportunity out there. Mining is not going to go away any time soon.’


  1. Leonard Tommy says

    “Restructure the ownership of Anitua”…That’s it.. You have a point there, Mr Colin Vale

  2. Colin Vale says

    I laughed hard when I read this article. When I was the CEO of Anitua our team centralised all of the businesses under one group. We centralised logistics, accounts, strategy, policy, safety, HR, IT, marketing and more. Once 80% completed, and it was very difficult to change the culture of the group along the way, we had three very successful years where we expanded off Lihir and at one stage had 4,500 employees . What you don’t count on are recalcitrant J/V partners who simply do not want to play ball, or your own landowner board conspiring against you to serve their own clan interests rather that the board they were sitting on. We managed all of that but worst of all was a mining company on Lihir that totally disregarded agreements with the landowners, lied to our board and conspired to break Anitua up. My teams role was to create a sustainable Lihir before the mine closed and there was a time that this was possible. I wish Mr Doekes every success as he reinvent the wheel that had been destroyed. I would dearly love to see the people of Lihir have sustainable income as well as better health and education. Unfortunately it can’t and won’t happen when you have to confront never ending clan nepotism, a weak board and a major client on Lihir that does not agree with the vision of Anitua. Mr Doekes might receive more support on Lihir from both the miner and the landowners if he could restructure the ownership of Anitua. That, to me, is an obvious first step, and admittedly, that hardest step. Our team tried and failed.

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