Gdansk Container Terminal sold to Polish government-led consortium

Poland’s largest container terminal is to be bought by a consortium of investors led by the Polish government. The present owner is the Australian-based bank and private equity company, Macquarie. An agreement was signed on March 19 committing the two sides to the sale assuming regulatory approval is given for the purchase.

The price to be paid for ‘Deepwater Container Terminal Gdansk’ appears not have been disclosed by either Macquarrie or the Polish Government, however press reports suggests that it will be in the region of US$1.3bn.

The consortium buying the port includes PSA International who presumably will have a direct role in the management of the terminal. PSA will hold 40% of the equity whilst the London-based infrastructure investment funds IFM Global Infrastructure and the Polish state-owned PFR will both own 30% each.

The rationale behind the deal appears heavily informed by the Polish Government’s discomfort with the level of foreign investment in its economy in general and its infrastructure in particular. Although the Polish economy has grown rapidly over the past 20 years, this growth has been heavily dependent on manufacturing assembly operations relocated from western Europe. Almost all are owned by large, non-Polish companies. The Polish government wishes to exercise greater control over certain areas of the economy by providing investment capital through its own state-controlled investment funds.

Deepwater Container Terminal Gdansk reflects the rapid growth of the Polish economy. Built a little over ten years ago, it has grown rapidly with 2018 seeing a throughput of 1.9m TEUs. These volumes have been driven by the construction of effective freight routes across Poland and much of central Europe, including regions such as the Western Ukraine. Originally it had been assumed that the German Ports would dominate the function of logistics hub for central Europe, however the more modern facilities of Gdansk have challenged this hypothesis. Crucially Gdansk has a draft of 17 metres enabling the largest container vessels to make direct calls more easily than the Port of Hamburg.

In discussing the deal, PSA International commented that growth would be supported in near future with the construction of a second terminal. If this is correct Gdansk would enter the top tier of container terminals in Europe.  

Source: Transport Intelligence, March 21, 2019

Author: Thomas Cullen


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