The global container shipping industry today experienced its next phase of consolidation with a leading Middle Eastern terminal operator snapping up a Danish feeder operator. DP World is paying Nordic Capital Fund VIII and certain minority shareholders EUR660m ($764m) to buy Unifeeder, Europe’s largest feeder operator.
“The acquisition of Unifeeder will further enhance DP World’s presence in the global supply chain and broaden our product offering to our customers – the shipping lines and cargo owners – with a view to ultimately reduce inefficiencies and improve the competitiveness of global trade,” DP World said in a statement today.
Unifeeder, founded in 1977, operates approximately 60 short-term chartered vessels, carrying around 3.2m teu and performing some 12,000 port calls annually. Alphaliner lists it as the 30th largest containerline in the world.
In November last year, Nils Smedegaard Andersen joined as chairman of Unifeeder. Andersen, who used to head up AP Moller-Maersk, is also a board member at Nordic Capital.
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO of DP World, said: “We are delighted to add the Unifeeder brand under the DP World umbrella, which supports our strategy to grow in complementary sectors, strengthen our product offering and play a wider role in the global supply chain as a trade enabler.
“The ever-growing deployment of ultra-large container vessels has made high-quality connectivity from hub terminals crucial for our customers and Unifeeder is a best-in-class logistics provider in this space with a strong reputation in Europe.”
Unifeeder was bought by Nordic Capital five years ago from Montagu Private Equity for an undisclosed sum.
While a number of Chinese ports, most notably Shanghai, have their own home grown feeder lines this acquisition is a new step in the history of containerisation with a terminal operator now becoming a sizeable shipowner via acquisition.
Commenting on the news via LinkedIn, Lars Jensen, CEO of SeaIntelligence Consulting and a regular Splash contributor, noted: “In an environment where main carriers are attempting to integrate deeper into the supply chain on the land-side of the business, one of the largest terminal operators are making a move into the supply chain as well, once more showing that the entire industry is in the midst of a fundamental transformation.”