COSCO Shipping Ports has agreed to purchase a 51% stake in Noatum Ports for €203m (US$227m), with Ocean Alliance cargo already beginning to switch to its terminals in Valencia and Bilbao.
Once the deal is completed, current majority shareholder TPIH Iberia will hold the remaining 49% stake.
Major assets of Noatum Ports include Noatum Container Terminal Valencia (NCTV), Noatum Container Terrminal Bilbao (NCTB), Conterail Madrid and Noatum Rail Terminal Zaragoza (NRTZ).
All the above terminals will continue to offer their infrastructure and services to all shipping companies calling at the ports of Bilbao and Valencia, respectively, under conditions of neutrality.
The 45% shareholding of Noatum Ports in OPCSA Las Palmas will continue to be held by the current Noatum Ports shareholders.
The transaction excludes Noatum Maritime, the core activity of which includes automotive and multi-purpose port operations and terminals, adding the vehicle and bulk terminals of Santander, Sagunto, Malaga and Barcelona (Autoterminal).
A statement from the Chinese state-owned company claimed that the transaction represented a “perfect strategic fit” to the strategies of “developing a global terminals portfolio”, “strengthening control and management of the ports and terminals business” and finding synergies between COSCO Shipping and the Ocean Alliance.
It added that NCTB and NCTV will receive business support from both COSCO Shipping and its Ocean Alliance partners.
Douglas Schultz, CEO of Noatum Ports and Maritime, stated: “The new partnership enhances our capacity to increase cargo volumes and reinforces the ports of Valencia and Bilbao, as well as improving service levels to customers.”
NCTV’s concession to operate its container terminal in Valencia expires in March 2031, although the company has applied to the port authority of Valencia to extend the concession by ten years.
If the extension is granted for a shorter period or is not granted at all, TPIH has agreed to pay COSCO Shipping Ports a fee.
The Port of Valencia is one of the top three container ports in the Mediterranean with its immediate hinterland within a 350 km radius accounting for almost 50% of Spanish GDP.
The port acts as the main gateway for the Iberian Peninsula and Madrid while it is geographically placed to be a West Mediterranean transhipment hub, noted the COSCO statement.
NCTB is the sole container terminal in the Port of Bilbao, serving as a gateway for container traffic through the Iberian Peninsula and the Southwest of France.
According to COSCO, Conterail Madrid and NRTZ Zaragoza can improve the connection between the hinterland and the foreland, channelling products through the Ports of Valencia and Bilbao.
NRTZ is a key intermodal rail hub on the Spanish general public rail network.
The amount of €203m (US$227m) is subject to a post-completion adjustment by reference to the net asset value of the Noatum Ports Holdings Group on the completion date.
The completion of the transaction is subject to shareholder approval, certain conditions precedent and relevant regulatory approvals being achieved.
TPIH is owned by institutional investors advised by JP Morgan Global Alternatives (67%) and by APG Asset Management (33%).