French conglomerate Bolloré set for an exit

One of the biggest recent surprises in the African logistics sector over the past few months has been Bolloré’s decision to pull out of the industry.

The French conglomerate has been a major player over many decades, with operations ranging from ports and shipping to rail and warehousing, and the firm had expanded its operations over the past two years, despite losing its concession for Douala container terminal in Cameroon. It is in exclusive talks with Swiss-Italian shipping line MSC over the sale of its entire logistics operations on the continent. MSC has offered $6.43bn.

The sale appears linked to founder Vincent Bolloré’s decision to retire in February 2022 and hand control of the company over to his four children. Moreover, a French court imposed a €12m fine on the company over financial irregularities relating to a port concession in Togo.

The sale will see the family conglomerate lose about half of its current operations, with its 27% stake in media group Vivendi its biggest remaining asset. Bolloré’s logistics operations employ 20,800 people, including at 16 African container terminals, mainly in West Africa.

The sale of Bolloré assets to a single buyer should not weaken competition in the African port sector. Indeed, if the sale to MSC is completed as envisaged, it could lead to greater integration between the division’s logistics operations and MSC’s shipping services, which already connect African ports to the rest of the world.

The deal will be watched with great interest by Bolloré’s main competitors in logistics and terminal operation in Africa, such as DP World and APM Terminals. Although headquartered in the Netherlands, the latter handles port operations as part of Denmark’s Maersk group. Maersk is currently the world’s biggest shipping line, just ahead of MSC.

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed