MSC to acquire cruise port operator Global Ports Holding?

   June 17, 2022 ,   Cruise Industry

GPH-Global Ports Holding - the world's largest cruise port operator, which also manages under concession several container ship terminals, confirmed that it had been approached for takeover discussions by a division of MSC Group-Mediterranean Shipping Company.

GPH said that its primary shareholder, a company controlled by the Turkish businessman Mehmet Kutman, was in discussions with MSC.

In a regulatory filing in London England, GPH reported they were exploring a potential cash offer for all of its shares. The value of the shares of the beleaguered company jumped ~20% based on the rumors before the regulatory filing. Mehmet Kutman owns 62% of the GPH shares.

The 2004-established company promotes itself as the largest cruise port operator in the world. They currently have agreements for a total of 26 ports in 14 different countries ranging from the Mediterranean (29% market share) to Northern Europe, Asia, the Caribbean. In 2022, GPH signed port concessions for Tarragona (Spain Costa Daurada) and Crotone (Italy) as they work to rebound from the impact of the COVID crisis. The company recently revealed it had returned to profitability after a 2-year downturn.

GPH created a market position focusing on cruise ports, and positioning itself as the leading cruise port brand in the world, with an integrated network of cruise ports serving ferries, yachts, mega-yachts, and cruise ships. The company reports handling 1.5M passengers per year with 5400+ port calls.

MSC Explora cruise ship

The company wrote in the filing that those deliberations were at a preliminary stage and no decisions with respect to an offer had been made.

“There can be no certainty that an offer might ultimately be made for the company nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made.”

Under the rules, MSC Group has till July 13 to “either announce a firm intention to make an offer,” or the company can announce they do not intend to make an offer for GPH. The deadline could be extended with the consent of the takeover panel.

In addition to being the world's largest container shipping line, MSC Group also operates MSC Cruises - one of the world's top 3 largest cruise shipping companies. MSC's controlling family recently agreed to make an investment in the financially troubled Italian ferry company MOBY LINES - part of a restructuring of the debt from the acquisition of ferry operator TIRRENIA.

In April 2022, MSC agreed to buy the logistics operations of Bollore Group, which operates in 47x African countries with 16 container terminals, in a deal valued at US$6.4 billion. 

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