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Eyeing Expansion, CMA CGM Sets Sights on Bollore’s Logistics Arm

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February 6, 2023

By Vinicy Chan, Dinesh Nair and Manuel Baigorri (Bloomberg) —

French shipping tycoon Rodolphe Saade is ramping up his hunt for acquisitions, with an eye on fellow billionaire Vincent Bollore’s logistics arm as a way to take a greater slice of global trade flows.

The Saade family’s container shipping giant, CMA CGM SA, has been studying the multibillion-dollar Bollore unit as a possible target and assessing the feasibility of a deal for some time, people with knowledge of the matter said. Saade would be keen to pursue a purchase of the business if Bollore were ready to sell, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Record oceanic-freight rates during the Covid pandemic brought in bumper profits for CMA CGM, which it has plowed into a string of acquisitions. The Marseille-based company has bought stakes in Air France-KLM, media assets and a satellite operator, as well as new vessels and ports around the world. 

CMA CGM’s 2026 notes wobbled marginally at the open Monday, before settling just below their closing price on Friday at 104.06 as of 10:09 a.m. London time. Shares of Bollore were down 0.9%, giving the company a market value of about €15.1 billion ($16.3 billion). 

While the families behind the two companies speak from time to time, there are no formal negotiations currently underway, the people said. Bollore doesn’t currently have any plan to divest the logistics operations, the people said.

A representative for CMA CGM didn’t respond to requests for comment, while a spokesperson for Bollore declined to comment. 

Bollore Logistics employs more than 20,000 staff in over 100 countries, according its website. It manages hundreds of thousands of tons of air and ocean freight for companies in sectors ranging from health care to food and drink. Last year, Bollore agreed to sell its African transport and logistics business to MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. in a deal valued at €5.7 billion ($6.2 billion) including debt.

CMA CGM’s own logistics business operates in more than 160 countries, offering air and ocean freight. The company said last year it will buy automotive logistics company Gefco Group and built a stake in the owner of French television broadcaster M6. 

In 2021, CMA CGM signed a deal to acquire Ingram Micro Inc.’s e-commerce contract logistics business for $3 billion including debt and agreed to purchase a container terminal in the Port of Los Angeles for an enterprise value of $2.3 billion. 

–With assistance from Angelina Rascouet, Albertina Torsoli, Aaron Kirchfeld, Tara Patel and Bruce Douglas.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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