Vincent Bolloré will turn the page of a long African history

It was Vincent Bolloré’s last nice move before handing over the reins of his group to his son Cyrille in February 2022: the sale at a very high price of Bolloré Africa Logistics (BAL) to the Italo-Swiss shipowner Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). After all the supervisory and competition authorities had given their green light at the end of November, the operation was completed three months ahead of schedule: the two groups will start an operation on Wednesday, December 21, for an amount of 5.7 billion euros, a year to the day of their exclusivity agreement.

Also read: The Bolloré group accelerates its transformation by selling its logistics activities in Africa

Without the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused freight rates to explode in 2020-2021 and the profits of container ship owners, the Breton businessman would probably never have received such an attractive offer for assets that were rather valued between 2 and 3 billion euros before the healed crisis. The family group has made a lot of money in Africa over the past thirty years. First shareholder in Vivendi (29.5%), will have new funds to invest in the media, where they continue to gain power and influence.

The deal with MSC went smoothly and without an international tender. “BAL’s facilities could have failed in the portfolio of an equity investor or a sovereign wealth fund, and I don’t think that would have been a good option, either for BAL’s business continuity or for Africa.”explained at the end of May the chairman of the MSC group, Diego Aponte, in an interview with Young Africa. No one wanted these assets to fall into the hands of a Gulf state, or the Singaporean Olam, even less the Chinese Cosco Shipping, which sees the ability to export African raw materials to the environmental empire. And especially not the French government, which would undoubtedly have preferred the choice of Marseille CMA CGM.

An important chapter to close

It is an important chapter in the history of Vincent Bolloré’s empire that is closing. He had opened it in 1986 with the purchase of SCAC (trade and transport) in Suez, then the delmas weapons in 1991. At a rate of 200 million investments a year, BAL has according to a source familiar with the matter. become the first transport logistics network on the continent. A sector that has developed profoundly in recent years with the emergence of such strong shipowners as MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, Cosco, Hapag-Lloyd and Evergreen. They are now developing in land logistics and have more funds for heavy investment.

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