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8/30/2012 10:45:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Maersk’s Bid to Run Va. Port Challenged As Two Unidentified Firms Show Interest

This story appears in the Aug. 27 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Two more companies have ex­pressed interest in taking over operations at the Port of Virginia, creating alternatives to an earlier offer from Maersk, which operates the largest container shipping fleet.

The port, located in the Norfolk/Hampton Roads region of the state, has been operated for more than 30 years by Virginia International Terminals, which is a state-sponsored operator.

Ryan Pedraza, program manager in Virginia’s public-private programs office within the Department of Transportation, confirmed to Transport Topics on Aug. 20 that two alternative proposals had been received. He declined to disclose their identities.

Published reports have listed one of the bidders as investor Carlyle Group, and the other is a real estate affiliate of Deutsche Bank. Neither firm responded to TT’s requests for comment.

APM Terminals, the Maersk unit that operates port facilities, in April made an unsolicited offer of $3.9 billion for a 48-year concession to operate the port. Maersk Line, the largest ocean shipping company, also is a unit of A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, Copenhagen, Denmark.

“We are now in the process of reviewing the proposals to determine whether the documents satisfy the minimum submission criteria set out in the request for alternative proposals,” Pedraza said.

He said more details should be released some time after an Aug. 22 meeting with the Virginia Port Authority Board of Commissioners.

The state agency set Aug. 13 as a deadline for receiving other bids to operate the nation’s eighth-largest port.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton previously said that other shipping companies, also not identified, had shown interest in supporting bids from other parties.

Virginia legislators in 1985 passed a law called the Public-Private Transportation Act to encourage private operators.

The current timetable calls for the state to decide by Aug. 31 whether any of the plans are acceptable before negotiations begin with one or more potential operators.

The port’s board is expected to evaluate proposals until Nov. 27. Governor Bob McDonnell (R) has appointed a majority of the board’s members.

March 31 is the date targeted for finalizing a privatization process.

By Transport Topics

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