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CMA CGM to Invest $33M After Winning Beirut Container Terminal Deal

Beirut container terminal
CMA Terminals plans to invest $33 million at Beirut's container terminal (CMA CGM)

Published Feb 17, 2022 2:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

French shipping giant CMA CGM Group mapped out an ambitious development plan after announcing that its subsidiary CMA Terminals has been awarded the concession for Lebanon’s Beirut Container Terminal. The new 10-year agreement supports the shipping company’s efforts to grow its logistics business and presence in the Levant region, while it provides a source of badly needed hard currency for Lebanon.

Under the terms of the agreement, CMA is being awarded a 10-year concession starting March 2022. The company is committing to an investment of $33 million, including $19 in the first two years for infrastructure upgrades including refurbishment of the facilities, acquiring, and replacing port equipment. They also plan to build a new maintenance and spare parts storage facility as well as enhance the environmental operations with green and eco-friendly equipment. CMA CGM is also committing to a digital transformation of the terminal.

The container operation currently handles about 650,000 TEU annually. CMA CGM’s plans call for more than doubling capacity to a target of 1.4 million TEU.

“Faithful to our commitments to Lebanon, we will be launching shortly an ambitious investment plan that will transform Beirut port’s container terminal into a state-of-the-art facility that meets the best international standards,” said Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and CEO of the CMA CGM Group. From a French-Lebanese family, Saadé also emphasized that the container terminal and port “will be at the service of the Lebanese people and will revitalize the economic exchanges between Lebanon and the rest of the world.”

Like all facilities in the port, which is Lebanon’s largest commercial port, the container terminal was heavily damaged during the August 2020 explosion originating in a nearby warehouse. The container terminal, which represents 85 percent of the traffic in the port, resumed service about a week after the blast noted Lebanon’s ministry of public works and transportation highlighting that 10 of the 16 cranes are operating. In November 2021, Lebanon announced it was launching a tender for the operations of the terminal.

Lebanon's public works and transport minister Ali Hamie said that CMA CGM offered the most favorable terms while highlighting the significant financial contribution the terminal will make to the cash-strapped country. 

CMA CGM noted that it was founded in Lebanon 43 years ago and continues to have a major presence in the region. Its ships offer nine weekly calls and transshipment operations from Lebanon with the company currently accounting for almost 55 percent of the Beirut container terminal’s volume. In addition, in 2021 they acquired the container terminal at the port of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second commercial port, and also have operations at the Latakia port. 

“The CMA CGM Group is continuously committed to playing a leading role in rebuilding Lebanon’s economy following the series of crises that have shaken the country in the recent years,” the company said in announcing the new concession. Previously, CMA CGM had pledged investments of between $400 and $600 million as part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s commitments to rebuild the port and city after the 2020 blast.

Winning the contract to manage, operate, and maintain the Port of Beirut’s container terminal CMA CGM noted is also part of the group’s strategy of developing its terminal business while supporting the growth and efficiency of its shipping lines. Like most of the major container carriers, CMA CGM is working to consolidate its end-to-end service offering and expand its operations across the logistics chain.