Global shipping giant MSC has made a $ 6.4 billion offer to acquire the African operations of the Bolloré Group, a French logistics and transport conglomerate that is leaving the continent after a long-standing corruption scandal.
The Bolloré Group has announced that it has received an offer from the MSC Group to acquire 100% of Bolloré Africa Logistics, bringing together all of the Bolloré Group’s transport and logistics activities in Africa.
“The Bolloré Group has granted the MSC Group exclusivity until March 31, 2022 to allow the MSC Group, following an additional due diligence phase and contractual negotiations, to submit a put option”, the Bolloré Group indicated in a statement.
The company added that the decision to exercise this put option and the signing of the related agreements could only be made after consultation with employee representative bodies and internal reorganization. Completion of the sale would also require the approval of the regulatory and competition authorities, as well as certain counterparties of Bolloré Africa Logistics.
For MSC, the leading maritime carrier by capacity, an agreement to acquire Bolloré’s operations in Africa is an important step towards realizing its ambitious plans to expand services on the continent. Currently, the shipping giant has 50 shipping and shipping services to Africa, making 123 weekly calls in 60 African ports.
CMA CGM, Maersk and Cosco had also expressed their interest in acquiring Bolloré Africa Logistics.
The Bolloré Group, which has been planning to leave Africa since 2020, is present in 42 African ports and operates 16 container terminals on the continent, and it employs around 20,000 people. The company also operates three rail concessions, namely Sitarail in Burkina Faso, Camrail in Cameroon and Benirai in Benin.
The company is majority owned and controlled by the family of French businessman Vincent Bolloré. In 2018, French courts opened a formal investigation into whether Mr. Bolloré’s company had resorted to corruption to develop its African port operations. The company’s Paris headquarters were raided, and Mr. Bolloré and two senior executives were questioned by France’s financial crimes unit. The line of inquiry included questions as to whether the group had boosted the election campaigns of favored politicians in Guinea and Togo, by winning port concessions in return.
In February 2021, the Bolloré Group paid $ 14.5 million to settle a related investigation into its operations in Togo. The agreement ended an investigation into “the corruption of foreign public officials, breach of trust and complicity in breach of trust committed between 2009 and 2011”, according to French financial prosecutor Jean-François Bohnert.
Although it is retiring from the transport and logistics industry in Africa, the Bolloré Group has said it will remain heavily involved in the continent’s media industry. He still owns Canal +, the leading pay-TV operator in French-speaking Africa, and is the majority shareholder of MultiChoice, the leading pay-TV operator in English-speaking Africa.