French ocean carrier CMA CGM is reported to be negotiating the sale of a 30 percent stake to a billionaire Belgian financier and a French government investment fund for $650 million.
CMA CGM has entered into exclusive talks with Cie Nationale a Portefeuille, a company controlled by Albert Frere, Belgium’s richest citizen, and FSI, France’s strategic investment fund, Reuters French service said, quoting an unnamed union source.
Under the proposal being discussed, CNP would contribute $390 million and the FSI $260 million in a joint investment for 30 percent of CMA CGM’s capital.
An FSI spokesman said it is in exclusive negotiations with CNP but “there is nothing definite.”
Marseilles-based CMA CGM, which is owned by the Saade family, has been seeking outside investors as part of a restructuring of its $5.3 billion debt it took on to expand its container fleet, the world’s third largest.
The Saades previously broke off talks with Qatar Holdings, saying conditions set by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund were too onerous. The carrier also has held talks with U.S. investment fund Colony Capital and Butler Capital Partners, a Paris-based private equity group.
The FSI has said it will participate in CMA CGM’s recapitalization after it has reached agreement with potential investors.
The talks, reportedly close to a conclusion, are taking place against a sharp improvement in CMA CGM’s financial performance.
The carrier, the No. 3 container ship operator in the world, is seeing a strong recovery in its operations this year. Revenue in the first half of 2010 jumped 41 percent to $6.8 billion from $4.8 billion a year earlier, driven by a 22 percent increase in traffic to 4.4 million TEUs. ‘’
Separately, CMA CGM on Friday appointed Olivier Dubois group chief financial officer to replace Jean-Yves Schapiro, who is stepping down at the end of August “to take on new challenges outside the shipping industry,” CMA CGM said.
Dubois, who joined the company on Friday, previously was executive officer at Theolia, an international developer of wind energy projects. He was president and CFO at Technip Group from 2002 to 2009, director and executive officer in charge of administration, finance, tax, information technology, legal and strategy at SPIE Group from 1991 to 2002, and earlier spent 11 years at Banque Paribas.
He and Schapiro “will work in close cooperation” during the transition until the end of August, the company said.
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