Yildirim Holding is to sell 24% in CMA CGM

Yilport Gebze Home Terminal. Source: Yilport Holding

Yildirim Holding AS seeks buyers for its 24% stake in CMA CGM, as it moves ahead with a plan to acquire Ports America Holdings Inc., the US terminal operator, writes Bloomberg. With this purpose, Yildirim mandated China Citic Bank Corp. to find investors from Asia or the Persian Gulf.

In an interview in Istanbul this week, Yuksel Yildirim, Chairman of the family-owned Turkish company, has told that investment banks have valued the stake at USD 2.5 to 3 bln based on recent deals in the industry. The stake in the French shipping line was bought by Yildirim for USD 600 mln in 2010-2011.

The Group intends to use the funds raised through the selling for the acquisition of Ports America, the largest independent maritime terminal operator on the US Atlantic and Gulf Coasts with 42 locations, which is owned by Oaktree Capital Group’s private-equity unit, Highstar Capital. Yilport Holding AS, Yildirim’s port operator unit, signed an exclusivity agreement with Oaktree in April 2017 with the validity until the end of July and aims to complete the acquisition by the year end, Yuksel Yildirim said.

However, he admitted that Yilport has USD 1.7 bln including bank loans and equity to finance its share of the acquisition and faces difficulties in finding a financial investor to join a bid for Ports America.

“Alliances and consolidations in the container-shipping industry in the past year have widened the difference between what buyers expect and what sellers are ready to pay,” reducing returns for financial investors, said Yuksel Yildirim.

The Group also plans to hold talks with 6 strategic investor groups in China to sell half of its stake in a USD 5 bln infrastructure project in Colombia. In 2014, Best Coal Co., a unit of Yilmaden Holding AS, joined the project to develop a coal mine, build a railway link and a port there.

Yildirim Holding aims to achieve USD 2.2 bln of sales this year from USD 1.6 bln in 2016, whereas its EBITDA is expected to rise to USD 719 mln from USD 465 mln in 2016. Yilport’s revenue is forecast to reach USD 650 mln with EBITDA rising to USD 208 mln this year from USD 560 mln and USD 140 mln, last year.

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