China Merchants in Talks to Invest in CMA CGM Port Assets

Shipping containers sit stacked on board the upper deck of container ship Antoine de Saint Exupery, operated by CMA CGM SA, at the port of Le Harve, France, on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. France is benefiting from solid economic expansion in the euro zone after years of European Central Bank stimulus, and a trade dispute with the U.S. that could have led to higher tariffs seems to have subsided for now. Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

China Merchants Group is in talks to invest in port assets owned by French shipping company CMA CGM as the state-owned firm seeks to diversify geographically and boost capacity, people familiar with the matter said.

China Merchants is considering spending at least several hundred million U.S. dollars on the potential transaction, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. It may opt to do the deal through Hong Kong-listed unit China Merchants Port Holdings Co., the people said.

Any divestment would help CMA CGM reduce debt after its $1.7 billion acquisition of Switzerland’s Ceva Logistics AG. China Merchants Port bought a 49% stake in CMA CGM’s Terminal Link unit for about 400 million euros ($443 million) back in 2013.

The Terminal Link business runs about 13 container terminals in countries such as the U.S., France, Greece, Morocco and South Korea, according to its website. CMA CGM also owns CMA Terminals, which has 32 terminals globally either in operations or under construction.

CMA CGM’s 2025 euro bond rose 1.7 cents on the dollar to 78.5 cents, the highest level in two months, according to Bloomberg-compiled prices.

Talks are still ongoing and may still fall apart, the people said. A representative for China Merchants Group referred Bloomberg News to a response by China Merchants Port, which said it had no comment. A representative for CMA CGM declined to comment.

China Merchants Port develops, invests and operates ports across China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It also has a presence in South Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean and South America. It counts about 36 ports in 18 countries and regions. Its parent company, state-owned China Merchants Group, was founded in 1872 with businesses spanning transportation, finance and property.

Source: Bloomberg

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