The port authorities of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are set to start negotiations with a view to a (phased) build-up of a possible merger between the two ports.
The decision was made on the basis of the findings of a complementarity and robustness study conducted by the external consultancy firm Deloitte and Laga.
Dirk De fauw, chairman of the board of directors of the Port of Zeebrugge, said: “We have been talking with the Port of Antwerp for some time to see how we can work more closely with the aim of strengthening each other’s port platforms.
“The ambition of both port authorities is to form a ‘Main Port from A to Z’, which is future-proof. Based on growing confidence and the positive findings of the research report, we start the formal discussions with our colleagues from the Port of Antwerp.”
The research report from Deloitte and Laga evaluated the current forms of cooperation, the potential added value around all possible forms of cooperation up to and including an economically inspired merger for both ports was objectified and the appropriate potential governance scenarios were explored.
Ongoing collaborations between the two ports have little impact due to existing competition, a limited scope and little commitment, the study found, but both ports are highly complementary and share the same external challenges.
Deloitte pointed out that far-reaching cooperation makes both ports more robust in existing domains, anchors employment and strengthens the role in the region and, by extension, internationally.
It also enables a faster and better response to future challenges such as scaling up, energy transition, innovation and digitalisation.
Deloitte concluded that cooperation only yields a win-win for both ports if the focus is on far-reaching integration between the two port authorities.
The two port authorities are positive about the findings of the research report and both show willingness to formally start negotiations with a view to the (phased) build-up of a possible merger.
The entire process is expected to have a lead time of two years.