This is trend news. MSC, a family-owned company from Geneva, wants to buy the logistics and transport activities of the Bolloré group in Africa, the French company announced this Monday. She says that she received an offer to that effect from MSC of 5.7 billion euros (just over 5.9 billion francs) and entered an exclusive negotiation phase with the Swiss multinational. MSC confirmed the information Climatewithout commenting further.
The Bolloré Africa Logistics subsidiary manages infrastructure in around twenty countries in Africa, including a network of sixteen port concessions, warehouses and road and rail hubs. More profitable than Bolloré’s international logistics, the African logistics branch is smaller in terms of turnover, with 2.1 billion euros realized in 2020, out of a total of 24.1 billion for the group. Bolloré Africa Logistics employs over 20,000 people.
Competitors in Africa
The group is a direct competitor to MSC, which also has important port and transport activities through its subsidiaries TIL and Medlog. The first notably operates the ports of San Pedro, in Côte d’Ivoire, and Lomé, in Togo, and the second has a network of thousands of trucks, mainly in Africa. In 2019, MSC had obtained the concession for the container terminal in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, but the courts, seized from the appeal of its French competitor,the operation.
The industry is facing enormous challenges as the supply chain is disrupted. The ports are flooded with containers, others lack them and often the lines of boats accumulate at their entrances. But in terms of profitability, the numbers are at the top. Danish group AP Moller-Maersk is gearing up for record profits this year and has just donated $1,000 to each of its 80,000 employees. MSC, a private company, does not publish any financial figures, but the Aponte group, a wealthy Geneva family, continues to grow in this pandemic year.
During the last twelve months, the Swiss group has acquired around sixty second-hand cargo ships, ordered at least 43 new ships and 12 cruise ships. So much so that MSC has become the largest shipowner in the world, ahead of AP Moller-Maersk, according to Alphaliner. This reference company indicates that MSC operates 633 ships, with a total tonnage of 4,239 million TEU (20 feet equivalent), and that its Danish competitor manages a larger fleet (720 ships), but with a lower tonnage (4,234 million TEU).
Last week, MSC Allegra embarked and unloaded 23,500 TEUs of containers in Antwerp, breaking a record in the Belgian port, before departing for Singapore. In November, MSC Barcelona docked in Rouen. She is the largest container ship ever received in French port. MSC Danit is under investigation in the Atlantic following an oil spill in California in October.
Will the shipping frenzy continue? Not necessarily, according to Antoine Frémont, director of research at the Gustave-Eiffel University, who envisions three scenarios for the future of maritime transport in the journal futures: one of the crises between Asia and the West, which is causing a drop in difficult trade for shipping; the second envisages a progression of multilateralism and the third scenario lies between the two. Low transport costs, rather than cheap labor in China, have accelerated the globalization of trade since the invention ofin the 1960s.
On December 2, Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire launched an ocean liner, MSC World Europa, which will run on liquefied natural gas (LNG), an alternative to the heavy fuel oil that dominates in Europe. . LNG eliminates sulfur and particulate emissions and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
This ship is part of MSC’s cruise division, which is resuming its activities tainted by the health crisis. At the beginning of December, its 19 cruise ships were between Brazil, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, South Africa, Northern Europe, the Red Sea and the Middle East. In late November, actress Sophia Loren christened a new MSC Cruises ship, MSC Virtuosa, in Dubai.
In Africa, negotiations between Bolloré and MSC are expected to continue until the end of March. Shares in the Bolloré group rose more than 10% on Tuesday following the announcement of the MSC offer.