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American Shipper

Aussies buy port operator ICS

Aussies buy port operator ICS

Australia’s Babcock & Brown Infrastructure (BBI) said Friday it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire port operator ICS Logistics Inc. in the United States, as well as port companies in Belgium and Germany.

   In the United States, BBI said it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 50 percent of southeastern U.S. port operator ICS Logistics Inc., with the remaining 50 percent owned by a Babcock & Brown managed unlisted fund.

   “ICS represents an attractive opportunity to acquire a growth platform that is expected to form the base for additional investments into the U.S. ports sector,” the company added.

   ICS’s main operations are in Jacksonville, and the company also operates terminals in Mobile and New Orleans. This year the company expects to handle about 2.6 million tons of cargo — 1.66 million tons of general cargo and nearly 1 million tons of refrigerated general cargo. Next year that is expect to grow to 3.1 million tons.

   Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Hanjin are building new terminals in Jacksonville, and BBI said “development of the port of Jacksonville into a hub port will provide further growth opportunities for ICS.” ICS has a 30-years lease through 2035 on a terminal in Jacksonville, renewable for up to 20 years.

   “As part of BBI’s global ports portfolio, ICS will be favorably positioned to capitalize on a pipeline of growth opportunities that it has identified and expand its business to handle a wider variety of cargo types for a greater number of customers, thereby enhancing its ability to withstand temporary market fluctuations in any one commodity,” the company said.

   ICS terminals handle significant paper imports and BBI said its purchase “is seen as a logical extension of BBI’s paper handling capabilities at its terminals in Europe. The paper handled by ICS originates from BBI’s Finnish ports.”

   In Europe, BBI said a subsidiary has entered into a conditional deal to acquire 43 percent of Westerlund Group, and is negotiating to acquire the other 57 percent. Westerlund is a Belgian based port operator that operates in Antwerp, Rouen in France and Changshu in China.

   It has also acquired 50 percent of Seehafen Rostock Umschlagsgesellchaft GmbH (SR), the dominant port operator in the Port of Rostock, Germany.

   BBI is one of several financial companies that have taken an interest in investing in ports and terminals industry in recent years. Others include an investment arm of Deutsche Bank, the AIG Global Investment Group, and the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund. BBI has investments in terminals and ports in the United States and Europe, a western Australian railroad, and a coal export terminal in Queensland, Australia. It also has investments in energy transmission and distribution assets.

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