Three months after announcing their bid to acquire an African logistics company, MSC and Bolloré confirmed a share purchase agreement for the group’s shipping, logistics and terminal operations. The nearly $6.4 billion deal follows similar moves by others in the shipping industry, including logistics acquisitions by Maersk and expansion of terminal operations by CMA CGM. CMA CGM, Maersk and Cosco had also reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Bolloré Africa Logistics.
“The acquisition of Bolloré Africa Logistics reaffirms MSC Group’s longstanding commitment to invest in Africa, strengthen supply chains across the continent and connect it to the rest of the world,” MSC said in a brief announcement.
Under the terms of the share purchase agreement, the MSC Group will acquire 100 percent of Bolloré Africa Logistics, including all of the Group’s African operations and its terminal operations in India, Haiti and Timor-Leste. The Bolloré Group operates in 47 African countries with 16 container terminals, seven ro/ro terminals, two timber terminals and one river terminal. It employs nearly 41,000 people, including its stevedoring activity. The company also operates three rail concessions, Sitarail in Burkina Faso, Camrail in Cameroon and Benirai in Benin, as well as a network of 85 shipping agencies which last year handled 7,100 port calls on behalf of the world’s largest shipping companies.
The French Bolloré Group has reportedly decided to put the African logistics company up for sale in 2020 while it was embroiled in a long-running bribery scandal. In February 2021, the Bolloré Group paid $14.5 million to settle a related investigation into its Togolese operations. The group notes that during the sale of its logistics company through its investment in Vivendi, which operates the communications company Canal+, it will remain active in other businesses in Africa and also its activities on the African continent in numerous sectors such as communications, entertainment, telecommunications and publishing .
MSC made its bid for the logistics group in December 2021 and entered into an exclusivity agreement with Bolloré Group to allow for additional due diligence and contract negotiations. The agreement was limited to March 31. The completion of the takeover is subject to the receipt of approvals, including from the relevant competition authorities.
Africa is viewed by the major shipping companies as a growing market opportunity. Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd acquired the container and general cargo line NileDutch, which specializes in the West African market in 2021, and recently announced that it has signed a framework agreement to take over the container business of Deutsche Afrika Linien, with main operations in South Africa.