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Contship Italia looks at Leghorn boxport project

This year will be a crucial year for Contship Italia’s new strategies in Italy. Following a 2015 made of ups and downs in handling performances (ups in the Italians gateway terminal of La Spezia, Ravenna and Salerno, downs in the transhipment hubs of Gioia Tauro and in the Eurogate Tangier based in Morocco) the present year will see changes.

Cecilia Eckelmann Battistello, Contship Italia’s chairman, is now personally in charge of the marine terminals business units. She told Splash some of the company’s next steps. “We are constantly looking at new opportunities to seize, mainly in the North Adriatic and, together with Eurogate (both the companies are part of the Hamburg-based Eurokai Group) in Western Africa such as Benin and Iran. In Italy we are particularly focusing on the so called Piattaforma Europa project launched by the Leghorn port authority and we are still considering whether to form new alliance with another terminal operator,” she said. Tenders for two new container terminals respectively in Leghorn and in Civitavecchia were recently launched by the local port authorities and are still open for bidders.

In Southern Italy, Gioia Tauro’s Medcenter Container Terminal (a 50:50 joint venture between Contship Italia and MSC Group) is suffering competition from North African ports and a decrease in volumes: in 2015 the total throughput of the terminal was 2.54m teu, down almost 500,000 teu compared to the year before. The managing director of the terminal resigned one week ago.

Talking about the terminal in Southern Italy, Battistello said: “Over the last 20 years the situation in Gioia Tauro has drastically changed. Italian rules are complicated and many other competitors such as Taranto, Cagliari, Algeciras, Valencia, Port Said, Damietta, Piraeus and others came up. The volumes decrease of the Medcenter Container Terminal is linked mainly to the economic slowdown in China.”

Looking at the future of the port, Contship Italia’s chairman added: “Our approach for this year will be to stay and see what happens with the increasing number of ultra large container carriers put into service that will call at the few ports which are capable of accommodating them. This year we are going to experience new global carrier alliances, mergers and other elements and after that we will take some decision about the future of the terminal.”

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Nicola Capuzzo

Nicola is a highly qualified journalist focused on transport economics, logistics and shipping with broad experience in both online and printed media. Specialties: shipping, ship finance, banking, commodities and port economics. He regularly interviews Europe's top shipowner executives for Maritime CEO magazine.
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