The Bolloré group sells its logistics activities in Africa to the shipowner MSC

The group has reached an agreement with the world container transport giant for 5,700 million euros.

The group Bollore continues its transformation by withdrawing from logistics activities on the African continent, which had been heavily involved in the diversification of the bicentennial family business, by selling them to former rival MSC for €5.7bn.

The announcement arrives at the extreme limit of the period of exclusive negotiations between the two groups opened on December 20, the transaction to be finalized “at the end of the first quarter of 2023”, according to a press release published by Bolloré on Thursday night. The Bolloré Africa Logistics branch, which has infrastructures in more than 20 countries across the continent, including a network of sixteen port concessions, warehouses and road and rail hubs, also aroused the interest of other maritime transport players, Maersk and CMA -CGM. But Bolloré had granted exclusivity to MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) after the Italian-Swiss shipowner sent an initial offer of 5,700 million euros, already.

Headquartered in Geneva, MSC belongs to the Italian Aponte family and has a fleet of 560 ships and more than 100,000 employees, managing terminals in Singapore, Long Beach (California) or Rotterdam. “The acquisition of Bolloré Africa Logistics confirms the MSC Group’s long-term commitment to investing in Africa and strengthening supply chains on the continent, while connecting it with the rest of the world”the shipowner stressed in a separate press release.

2,100 million euros of turnover in 2021

More profitable than Bolloré’s international logistics, the African logistics branch of the French group remains lower in turnover, with 2.1 billion euros made in 2020, out of a total of 24.1 billion for the group. It employs more than 20,000 people. Long before the media, logistics and Africa made the fortune of Vincent Bolloré, who in 1986 took control of SCAC (Commercial Chartering and Fuel Company) when it was privatized.

“The completion of the sale would be subject to obtaining regulatory authorizations and from the competent competition authorities, as well as the agreement of some of Bolloré Africa Logistics’ counterparties”, explained the Bolloré group. Cyrille Bolloré, who succeeded his father as CEO of the group in 2019, accompanied by Philippe Labonne, CEO of Bolloré Ports, and former President of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy, close to the family, had come to Abidjan earlier this year to convince the Ivory Coast authorities to authorize the sale of strategic assets.

But faced with increasingly expensive investments and growing competition from Chinese operators, Vincent Bolloré’s group wanted to sell it. It was also at the center of the corruption scandals in Togo and Guinea for which the group had agreed in 2021 to pay a fine of 12 million euros to the French justice and be followed by the French Anti-Corruption Agency. A judge, however, refused to approve the prior admission of guilt accepted by Vincent Bolloré and two other officials. His case was referred for investigation. The family company is accused by the French courts of having helped in electoral campaigns in exchange for the allocation of port concessions in these two countries.

A big strategic shift

Via Vivendi, in which Bolloré is the largest shareholder with more than 27% of the capital, the group has undertaken important maneuvers, including the sale of its nugget Universal Music Group (UMG) and the launch of a takeover bid for the Lagardère group, which could lead to the creation of a publishing giantthrough the merger of Lagardère Publishing and Editis, number one and two on the market in France, and in the media.

The group as a whole reached a turnover of close to 20,000 million euros in 2021, 19% more, with a net profit of 6,000 million euros. Remember that you will keep a “significant presence in Africa”in particular through Canal+ and investments in communication (Havas), entertainment or publishing, activities in which the group ensures “will continue its development”.

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