cma cgmPARIS–CMA CGM, the world’s third-largest container shipping company, Friday said it sold a 49% stake in its port operator Terminal Link to China Merchants for 400 million euros ($533 million) as part of the French company’s plan to reduce its debt.

Both companies said they will develop the port operations together and will seek to expand its reach. They expect to finalize the operation in the first half of this year.

CMA CGM, which is controlled by Lebanese-born businessman Jacques Saade and his family, is slowly recovering from financial difficulties in 2009, which stemmed from rising international oil prices, a slowing economy in Europe and a heavy debt burden. Its debt totaled $4.8 billion at the end of last year.

Since late 2010, CMA CGM partly reduced its debt by selling stakes of 20% and 6% to Turkish group Yildirim and French sovereign fund Fonds Strategique d’Investisement, respectively, through the sale of convertible bonds.

Write to Inti Landauro at inti.landauro@dowjones.com

(c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company

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