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MSC container ship during handling: groundbreaking transaction

Photo: Wolfhard Scheer / dpa

Logistics entrepreneur Klaus-Michael Kühne is considering a counter-offer for the Hamburg port operator HHLA. The announced entry of the Swiss shipping company MSC is an affront to Hapag-Lloyd as the largest shipping company customer of the Port of Hamburg, Kühne told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on Wednesday. I can only urgently advise Hapag-Lloyd to make an immediate takeover offer for 49.9 percent of HHLA's shares. If Hapag-Lloyd didn't do it, my Kühne Holding AG is considering doing it in the short term." Kühne Holding holds a 30 percent stake in Hapag-Lloyd. The entrepreneur had previously expressed an interest in the Port of Hamburg Authority.

Shortly before, the Geneva-based group and the Hamburg Senate had announced that they had signed a binding preliminary agreement to establish a strategic partnership. The City of Hamburg currently holds around 69 percent of the listed HHLA. In the future, this will be managed in a joint venture, with the city holding 50.1 percent and MSC 49.9 percent of the shares.

If Hapag-Lloyd doesn't . . .

To make this possible, MSC intends to make a takeover offer at a price of EUR 16.75 per share for all currently freely traded shares. Currently, the price is around 11.50 euros.

Hamburg's mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) spoke at a press conference in the town hall of a groundbreaking transaction. The partnership could give the entire maritime industry the boost it needs in difficult times. MSC CEO Soren Toft said that with this "very important" and strategic cooperation, Hamburg will become a hub on international trade routes in the future.

MSC announced that it would significantly increase cargo volumes in Hamburg from 2025 onwards. From 2031 onwards, there should be at least one million standard containers (TEU) per year. In addition, MSC will relocate its German headquarters to Hamburg.

HHLA announced: "In close cooperation with HHLA's Supervisory Board, the Executive Board will review and evaluate the announced offer in the best interests of the company and while safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders."