Chinese expansion into Spanish ports market

Spain’s leading port operator Noatum Ports confirms the conclusion of a partnership agreement with Chinese COSCO Shipping Ports Limited (COSCO) for the transfer of 51% of Noatum Ports. The transaction will include the container terminals owned by Noatum in Valencia (Noatum Container Terminal Valencia) and Bilbao (Noatum Container Terminal Bilbao), as well as the dry ports of Madrid (Conterail) and Zaragoza (Noatum Rail Terminal Zaragoza). The facilities, as public terminals, will continue to offer their infrastructure and services to all shipping companies under conditions of neutrality and in accordance with concession terms and contract commitments, says Noatum.

The 45% shareholding of Noatum Ports in OPCSA container terminal at the port of Las Palmas will continue to be held by the current Noatum Ports shareholders.

The transaction also excludes Noatum Maritime, a non-container branch of the Group, which integrates the vehicle and bulk terminals in Santander, Sagunto, Malaga and Barcelona (Autoterminal).

Douglas Schultz, CEO of Noatum Ports and Maritime, stated: “With this agreement Noatum Ports commences a new phase of development with COSCO Shipping Ports, a strategic partner and an important investor in port terminals worldwide. The new partnership enhances our capacity to increase cargo volumes and reinforces the ports of Valencia and Bilbao, as well as improving service levels to customers.”

COSCO has announced in its statement for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that the controlling stake will be purchased for EUR 203.49 mln (USD 227.81 mln) from the current Noatum’s majority shareholder TPIH Iberia. The deal will be funded by internal resources and bank borrowings. Upon completion of the deal, TPIH will hold 49% of Noatum Ports. TPIH is owned by institutional investors advised by JP Morgan Global Alternatives (67%) and by APG Asset Management (33%).

Explaining the benefits of the transaction, COSCO says that it is “a perfect fit” to the company’s the strategies of “developing a global terminals portfolio”, “strengthening control and management of the ports and terminals business” and “bringing into full play the synergies with the container fleets of COSCO Shipping”. With this deal, COSCO extends its ports and terminals business networks over the Mediterranean and European areas. The company also assures that Noatum container terminals in Valencia and Bilbao will enjoy business supports from COSCO SHIPPING’s container fleet and OCEAN Alliance.

Julia Louppova:
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