Container line CMA CGM announced an agreement Thursday with Turkey-based investment firm Yildirim Group that will push $500 million into the debt-ridden French carrier.
Yildirim will take a 20 percent stake in CMA CGM while the Saade family that founded and runs the world’s third-largest container ship operator will retain 80 percent ownership.
The agreement ends a year-long search for new capital at CMA CGM, which was saddled with a huge debt after the historic downturn in trade sent revenue plummeting and the company suffered big losses in oil trading markets.
“This alliance with Yildirim Group will enable us to strengthen CMA CGM’s balance sheet,” Jacques R. Saade, chairman of the CMA CGM board, said in a statement.
Yildririm, which has investments in ports and shipping in its wide-ranging portfolio, will get five-year convertible bonds in the shipping line for its $500 million investment and appoint three members of the board.
The group’s president and CEO, Robert Yuksel Yildirim said in a statement that the investment is a testament to the “capabilities of (CMA CGM’s) management and teams.”
The Saade family has struggled to retain control of the carrier as it has sought cash from various sources since late 2009, when a steep downturn and demand sent the liner’s companies finances into a steep decline.
The company says business has recovered strongly this year, with revenue up 38 percent in the first nine months of 2010 to $10.5 billion. CMA CGM, which does not disclose full financial figures, said its freight volume was up 18 percent over the first three quarters of 2009 and its operating margin reached 18.5 percent.