MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co agreed to buy the African transport and logistics business of Bollore SA for €5.7-billion ($6.3-billion) including debt.
Geneva-based MSC, the world’s largest container line, has had exclusivity to make a firm offer for the unit since December. The deal is expected to to be completed by March 2023 after approvals and other conditions are met, according to a statement.
Shares of Bollore traded 2.7% higher as of 9:06 am in Paris on Friday, leaving the company, which is based in the French capital, almost unchanged this year. MSC is closely held.
MSC has been on an spending spree after an unprecedented cargo boom during the Covid crisis vaulted it to the top of the industry. Bollore Africa Logistics is the continent’s biggest player, while separate talks are ongoing for a majority stake in Italy’s ITA Airways, the successor to Alitalia, to bolster air cargo.
Bollore, founded by the family of French billionaire Vincent Bollore, put the African unit up for sale last year, Le Monde reported in October. At the time, it suggested that Denmark-based AP Moller-Maersk and rival CMA CGM SA of France were interested in bidding for the business, which generated revenue of €2.1-billion in 2020.
Bollore said in December that a sale would take the form of MSC submitting a put option that Bollore could exercise after consulting with employees and completing an internal reorganization. The deal will also require the approval of regulators and counter-parties of Bollore Africa Logistics.
The logistics division has almost 21 000 employees in 49 countries, according to the group’s website. It’s active in 42 ports, including 16 container terminals, seven roll-on, roll-off ferry ports and two wood terminals, and also has a network of 85 maritime shipping agencies and operates three rail concessions.
Closely held MSC has a fleet of 600 vessels, more than 100 000 staff and serves 500 ports.
Container lines have enjoyed record profits as the the Covid-19 pandemic boosted demand for goods and puts pressure on supply chains, spurring oceanic-freight rates to record levels.