CMA CGM Near Deal to Buy California Terminal Operator

A CMA CGM ship at the Fenix Terminal. (Fenix Marine Services via YouTube)

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CMA CGM SA, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, agreed to buy Fenix Marine Services, which operates a container terminal in the Port of Los Angeles, in a deal with an enterprise value of $2.3 billion.

CMA CGM reached the agreement with EQT Infrastructure, according to a statement Nov. 3. The shipper, which already owned a 10% stake in the Fenix terminal, bested offers from other bidders including infrastructure funds, according to people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg News reported Nov. 2.

EQT Infrastructure, an arm of alternative-asset manager EQT AB, had been working with Rothschild & Co. to solicit interest in its stake in the San Pedro, Calif., terminal from potential suitors, Bloomberg reported in September.

EQT, which acquired Fenix in 2017, invested more than $130 million on technology, new equipment such as cranes and reconfiguration of the terminal, according to a document sent to prospective suitors reviewed by Bloomberg. The terminal operates on a concession from the Port of Los Angeles expiring in 2043.

Fenix, which spans 292 acres, has a long-term off-take agreement with Ocean Alliance, which includes Cosco Shipping Lines, CMA CGM, Evergreen Line and Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd.

CMA CGM in September said it was freezing spot rates to prioritize long-term client relationships, yielding to pressure from some customers and regulators concerned that global trade disruptions have pushed the cost of shipping too high.

The French company is flush with cash as a shortage of maritime shipping capacity has sent prices soaring for moving freight containers across the ocean. CMA CGM’s sales increased 63% in the first six months of this year to $23.1 billion from $14.2 billion in the same period last year. Operating profit jumped more than sixfold this year through June to $6.3 billion, filings show.

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