AD Ports Buys GFS to Become Largest Independent Feeder Ship Carrier

Feeder ship
AD Ports plans to integrate GFS with its existing feeder operations including SAFEEN (SAFEED file photo)

Published Nov 3, 2022 1:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

AD Ports Group, controlled by the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund ADQ, will acquire Dubai-based Global Feeder Shipping (GFS) creating the world’s largest independent feeder carrier. The Dubai-based operators of ports and marine services will pay $800 million for an 80 percent stake in the global shipping company in a move designed to consolidate the market and drive more trade with the UAE.

AD Ports Group reports that it will look to integrate GFS into its Maritime Cluster, which already offers a comprehensive portfolio of shipping, offshore, and subsea services. Aligning GFS services with AD Ports Group companies SAFEEN Feeders and Transmar will make AD Ports Group the leading independent operator of feeder vessels. The company’s combined fleet will include, 35 owned vessels, with a total container capacity of 100,000 TEUs, making it the third largest globally by volume carried.

H.E. Falah Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Chairman of AD Ports Group, said the company’s ambition is to become one of the world’s leading shipping companies, offering a comprehensive range of maritime services. “AD Ports Group has been on a journey of development throughout 2022, driven by both organic growth and prudent investments. Our acquisition of a majority stake in GFS, which is the largest external investment in our company’s history, will deliver a step-change in the range of services we can offer and significantly enhance our global connectivity.” 

GFS has one of the largest fleets of container feeder ships globally, featuring 26 owned and operated vessels with a total capacity of 72,500 TEUs. Alphaliner ranks GFS as number 24 on its list of the 100 largest 100 companies in the sector. GFS operates in the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and Southeast Asia with services connecting the UAE to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Yemen, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, China, South Korea, and Vietnam, among others.
AD Ports Group said that the acquisition will boost its trade activities and connectivity to core markets, as well as enhance its feeder business, providing significant economies of scale through an expanded route network and fleet. In addition, the acquisition will further strengthen the company’s hub and spoke model by linking core markets in the Gulf, Indian Subcontinent, Red Sea, and Turkey to its key port assets including Khalifa Port. 

GFS’s existing management will remain in place with the founders retaining a 20 percent stake in the company. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in Q1 2023.