MSC boss says Bolloré’s terminal at the port of Lomé will remain operationally independent

Wednesday, 01 June 2022 17:08
MSC boss says Bolloré’s terminal at the port of Lomé will remain operationally independent

(Togo First) - "The terminal managed by BAL [Bolloré Africa Logistics, editor’s note] will remain operationally independent, with its top management in Lomé, placed under the responsibility of its CEO in Puteaux [Bolloré headquarters, editor’s note], as is currently the case. The two entities will not face but complement each other." The statement was recently disclosed by Diego Aponte, President of MSC since 2014, in an interview.

Bolloré’s Togolese subsidiary is under the spotlight since it was taken over by MSC, following a deal inked last March. It draws attention also because MSC, the world’s leading shipping company, already operates in Lomé through Lomé Container Terminal (LCT), the second terminal of the Port of Lomé.

The issue lies in the fact that several port actors and observers are not fond of granting LCT full monopoly over the handling activities of the port of Lomé; this, despite the company being quite successful and having increased the port’s container traffic fivefold since its arrival. This is a situation that MSC is trying to ease before facing African regulators, who have yet to approve its deal with Bolloré. 

“Our goal is not to have a dominant position that could penalize one player or another. There is a port authority whose role is precisely to regulate and ensure that everyone can operate normally in its basins,” Diego Aponte said in an attempt to reassure those concerned about the agreement. “We have therefore planned, both at BAL and MSC, to visit these various authorities in the coming months,  to obtain their approval, but also to present ourselves and explain our vision,” he added.

MSC, which considers Lomé as a regional hub, claims it wants to use Togo Terminal’s facilities, alongside LCT’s, to accommodate other shipowners who serve the Togolese capital. The group operates in Togo via its container terminal investment company, Terminal Investment Limited (TIL).

“With transshipment, the volumes handled at the Lomé Container Terminal (LCT) prevent us from serving other shipowners besides MSC. So they resort to BAL’s facilities, and there is no reason for this to change,” said the son of Gianluigi Aponte, founder of MSC.

“We will not influence commercial policies and tariffs, nor the terminal’s management, to ensure that there is a real differentiation between the two port operators,” he insists.

Just like with all its new subsidiaries, “we want to keep managing … by keeping BAL as an independent company of the group,” Aponte stressed. However, in the short term, there will be new branding and a new logo.

“We do not intend to integrate BAL into MSC, but rather to find synergies with our subsidiaries to avoid duplication and overinvestment in certain facilities… We will keep the workforce and management as it is, the latter being accountable only to a new shareholder in the person of Aponte and not Bolloré.”

The explanations are given around two weeks after the Togolese minister of maritime economy told Tribune Afrique that the Togolese government “reserves the right to comment on this deal at the appropriate time”. The official also said talks regarding the MSC-Bolloré were not over, though the groups have reached an agreement.

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