cma cgmBy Ivana Sekularac

ZEEBRUGGE, Belgium – CMA CGM, the world’s third-largest container group, plans to list shares on the Paris Stock Exchange to get easier access to financing as low freight rates pressure margins, its deputy chief executive said.

Rodolphe Saade, whose family owns CMA CGM, said in an interview on Tuesday the group planned to complete the listing by the end of 2014 but did not say how much money it wanted to raise or what percentage would be floated in an initial public offering (IPO).

“It will enable us to find financing. It will be easier for us to secure bank loans as a listed company,” Saade said, adding that the group planned to appoint an adviser for the listing in early 2013.

The Marseilles, France-based firm has been through a turbulent three years. The global economic downturn in 2009 triggered heavy losses and a restructuring, and last year another slump in freight squeezed its finances again.

CMA CGM said last month it was on course for a full-year profit and expected to finalise a debt restructuring deal with banks in January.

Saade said the group would get a financial injection of $250 million by the end of January to reassure banks and keep the business running.

French sovereign fund FSI will provide $150 million, and the remainder will come from the Saade family and Turkish shareholders the Yildirim family.

CMA CGM also plans to sell 49 percent of its terminal business to a Chinese investor and expects to complete the deal in the first quarter of next year, Saade said.

“The transaction will include 15 out of 30 terminals operated by (container terminal operator) Terminal Link,” Saade said.

Saade said Africa, Russia and Latin America would be the company’s main growth areas in 2013.

“We expect to see growth of between 5 and 10 percent in those markets,” he said.

He spoke while on board the Marco Polo container ship, which CMA CGM said is the largest container ship in the world. The ship will sail between China and the ports of Hamburg, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge, carrying goods including TV sets from Asia, Saade said.

The ship was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and is 396 meters long and 54 meters wide. (Editing by Sara Webb and Jane Baird)

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