Privatized Malta terminal sees further growth
Newly privatized Malta Freeport, a Mediterranean transshipment container terminal, said it handled 1.2 million TEUs in the first 10 months of 2004, a 9 percent increase over the year-earlier period.
On Oct. 5, the government of Malta signed an agreement with the French shipping company CMA CGM, granting it a 30-year concession to operate and develop Malta Freeport.
“As a result of the agreement, the Maltese government has sold all its shares in Malta Freeport Terminals Ltd. and entered into an agreement to lease the port facilities and to grant a license for the operation of the port,” a spokesman for the Maltese terminal told American Shipper. The country’s government remains the owner of the site of the port facilities.
During the concession period, CMA CGM will be solely responsible for investments to improve the facilities and equipment.
CMA CGM said in October it would invest 7 million to 12 million euros ($9 million-16 million) in the short term in new equipment, and would raise the terminal’s annual capacity from 1.3 million TEUs to 2.3 million TEUs.
Malta Freeport competes as a Mediterranean container hub against the ports of Gioia Tauro, Naples, Cagliari, Taranto and the newly opened Suez Canal Container Terminal. Taranto is operated by Evergreen and the Suez Canal facility is majority controlled by the A.P. Moller-Maersk group.
Malta Freeport stressed that the license granted to CMA CGM states that the port must remain a common-user facility, allowing carriers other than CMA CGM to use it. The French shipping line is one of the largest users of Malta Freeport.
“This means that current contracts and commitments of Malta Freeport are not affected by the privatization,” the terminal said.
CMA CGM has appointed Port Synergy, a 50-50 joint venture between CMA CGM and P&O Ports, to manage the terminal.