APM Terminals (APMT) announced the decision to divest their container terminal in Izmir, Turkey. The terminal will be sold to APMT’s current partner, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), a wholly state-owned national oil and gas company headquartered in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The sale is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be concluded by the year end.
APMT explains this decision by the fact that SOCAR “is better suited to further develop the terminal” and confirms its “commitment to Turkey”, as APMT “will continue to manage the facility, offering high operational standards of reliability, safety, sustainability and customer service”. However, the Turkish publications comment this deal as a withdrawal of the global port operator from the country.
APMT entered the Turkish terminal market in 2012, by signing a 28-year contract with Petkim, a large Turkish petro-chemical company, a subsidiary of SOCAR, which held 70% in the operation. Having invested USD 450 mln into the 2-phase development, APMT started commercial operations at the port of Aliaga, Izmir province, with Phase I in December 2016.
Today, Petlim Container Terminal is the largest container facility in Turkey’s Aegean region and the third largest in Turkey, with the annual capacity of 1.3 mln TEU, 700m quay length, 16m water depth and the ability to provide service to latest generation vessels with 16,000 TEU capacity.
In 2017, the terminal handled 207,500 TEU, which was its first full year of operations.
APMT explains the deal’s particulars in its statement: “As part of the sales agreement, APM Terminals will continue managing the terminal, ensuring that needs from both shipping lines and landside customers are catered for. In the new structure, operating company Petlim will be fully owned by SOCAR Turkey, and managed by APM Terminals.”
The global port operator states that there will be no change in operations nor services. Neither, it expects any changes to the employment status of the 310-strong workforce.
“This will be the same company as it is now, just with a new owner and a new name. We foresee no job losses,” ensures Leo Huisman, APM Terminals Head of Terminals in Europe.
On the whole, the decision to divest the Izmir terminal reflects the current APMT’s portfolio strategy to focus on long-term core assets and to exit those where it does not have a controlling stake. Thus, in September 2017 the company sold its shares in the APMT Zeebrugge container terminal in Belgium to COSCO Shipping Ports.