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Macquarie consortium buying Long Beach terminal

Orient Overseas (International) Limited announced the sale for $1.78 billion of Long Beach Container Terminal to a consortium led by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners.

   Orient Overseas (International) Limited (OOIL) said it had sold 100 percent of Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT) for $1.78 billion to a consortium led by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners.
   OOIL was required to sell the terminal, one of the largest and most automated in the country, pursuant to the National Security Agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice.
   The federal government demanded the sale of the terminal after a review last year of the purchase of OOIL by COSCO Shipping Holdings by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
   As part of the agreement with Macquarie, OOCL will continue to have its ships call at LBCT with a minimum volume commitment under a 20-year container stevedoring and terminal services agreement.
   Karl Kuchel, chief executive officer of Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, said his company was committed to completing the current expansion of LBCT by 2022, which will significantly increase the capacity of the terminal.
   Completion of the sale will be subject to approvals from regulators and other customary conditions.
   Neil Davidson, senior analyst of ports and terminals for the London-based shipping consultants Drewry, said, “The price paid is a substantial one but in line with expectations. LBCT is a profitable terminal with further scope to expand capacity and Macquarie is an experienced and canny financial investor; likewise OOCL (COSCO) is a well-informed seller.”
   He added that “a key factor in the deal (and the price) is the 20-year continued usage agreement with OOCL (and in effect the Ocean Alliance) which underpins base volumes. In addition to COSCO and OOCL, the Ocean Alliance vessel-sharing agreement includes CMA CGM and Evergreen.
   Macquarie partnerships are major investors in port assets and stevedoring. In North America, they own 90 percent of the largest container terminal in the Port of New York and New Jersey, Maher Terminal in Elizabeth, N.J., and 49 percent interest in Yusen Terminals Ltd. (YTI) in the Port of Los Angeles. In March one of its partnerships acquired 100 percent of NYK Ports (North America).
However, Macquarie is continuing to seek buyers for three of its terminals: Penn Terminals in Philadelphia and two terminals in Canada, Halterm in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Fraser Surrey Docks in Surrey, British Columbia. 
   Construction of LBCT in the Port of Long Beach’s Middle Harbor began in 2011 and will have capacity to handle 3.3 million TEUs when completed.
   Anthony Otto, the president of LBCT, said currently the terminal handles about 1.5 million TEUs and is utilized by two OOCL/Ocean Alliance services. Those ships are handled at the terminal’s two existing berths and volumes are expected to grow as the size of vessels increase.
   A third berth is expected to be completed in 2022.
   The terminal is about two-thirds of the way toward completion, when it will encompass 311 acres.
   Otto said that under the sale agreement he and the other members of the management team have agreed to continue work with LBCT for the foreseeable future.

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.