Bolloré rumoured to be considering selling African business

Bolloré Transport & Logistics and supply chain services company Czarnikow are collaborating to support Bolloré’s sustainable development in East Africa through the VIVE Sustainable Supply Programme.

The French newspaper Le Monde is suggesting that Bolloré is looking to sell its business in Africa.

What Le Monde calls “collaborating sources” have said that Bolloré Group, of which Bolloré Logistics is an important part, has instructed Morgan Stanley to explore options for the sale of its logistics assets in Africa. The article seemed to imply that the emphasis was on trade buyers rather than private equity, citing CMA CGM, DP World and Maersk as possible purchasers but stating that whilst “large private equity funds like Ardian or KKR are full of capital, most of them are limited, by their status, in their ability to invest in emerging countries”. Whether or not this is accurate, Bolloré’s African assets certainly might be attractive to the large shipping lines and container terminal companies that have sought to diversify into inland services.

However, it should be noted that Bolloré’s business in Africa, whilst highly profitable, has not been without incident. Vincent Bolloré has only just shaken off a series of court cases around his relationship with the President of Guinea and the allocation of port concessions in the country. Indeed, it appears that Bolloré’s strength in the region’s logistics is due in part to its insight into the politics and economics of Africa.

For Bolloré Group the ability to sustain this position in Africa was an important pillar of the wider Bolloré Logistics business. Its profit margins were high and it was a key strength for the company. That said, Bolloré Logistics over the past several years has been looking to expand its presence in other markets, particularly Asia Pacific and North America. Yet removing the Africa operations would still have significant implications for the whole of Bolloré Logistics and therefore it is possible that Bolloré Logistics is considering a further, wider reorientation.

However, there may be other reasons why Bolloré are thinking about selling assets. Vincent Bolloré is a prominent and controversial businessman in France. He has just floated Universal Music Group on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange and has begun to expand other media interests in France and elsewhere in Europe. Considering selling African logistics assets may be just part of this development of investment strategy.

Source: Transport Intelligence, 19 October 2021

Author: Transport Intelligence