MSC Group Reaches Agreement to Acquire Bolloré Africa Logistics
Three months after announcing that it had made an offer to acquire an African logistics business, MSC and Bolloré confirmed that they entered into a share purchase agreement for the group’s shipping, logistics, and terminals operations. The deal which is valued at nearly $6.4 billion follows similar moves by others in the shipping industry, including logistics acquisitions by Maersk and expansion by CMA CGM of its terminal operations. CMA CGM, Maersk, and Cosco reportedly had also expressed interest in acquiring Bolloré Africa Logistics.
“The acquisition of Bolloré Africa Logistics reaffirms MSC Group’s longstanding commitment to invest in Africa and to strengthen supply chains across the continent, as well as connecting it to the rest of the world,” MSC said in a brief announcement.
Under the share purchase agreement, MSC Group will acquire 100 percent of Bolloré Africa Logistics, including all the group’s African operations, as well as its terminal operations in India, Haiti, and Timor-Leste. Bolloré Group operates in 47 African countries with 16 container terminals, seven ro/ro terminals, two wood terminals, and a river terminal. It has almost 41,000 employees including its stevedoring activity. The company also operates three rail concessions, Sitarail in Burkina Faso, Camrail in Cameroon, and Benirai in Benin, and a network of 85 maritime agencies that processed 7,100 port visits last year on behalf of the world’s largest shipping lines.
The French Bolloré Group reportedly decided to put the African logistics business up for sale in 2020 while it was involved in a long-running bribery scandal. In February 2021, Bolloré Group paid $14.5 million to settle a related investigation into its Togo operations. The group notes that while it is selling its logistics company it will remain active in other businesses in Africa through its investment in Vivendi which operates communications company Canal+, and will also continue to develop its activities on the African continent in numerous sectors such as communications, entertainment, telecommunications, and publishing.
MSC made its offer for the logistics group in December 2021 and entered into an exclusivity agreement with Bolloré Group to permit additional due diligence and contractual negotiations. The agreement was set to expire on March 31. Completion of the acquisition is subject to the receipt of approvals, including from the relevant competition authorities.
Africa is seen as a growing market opportunity by the major shipping lines. Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd acquired container and breakbulk line NileDutch, which specializes in the West African market in 2021 and recently announced it had signed a framework agreement to acquire the container business of the Deutsche Afrika-Linien, with primary operations in South Africa.