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Tschentscher: Approval of deal between MSC and HHLA will increase

Posted on January 3, 2024

HAMBURG (dpa-AFX) – According to Mayor Peter Tschentscher, approval of the controversial investment by the world’s largest shipping company MSC in the Hamburg port logistics company HHLA will grow over time. The SPD politician told the German Press Agency that there is a growing realization that HHLA is in dire need of the support of the city and its strong shareholders. “And that is why the stronger or the more concrete the agreement with MSC becomes and the more ready it is to be finalized, the more support there will be for this decision,” Tschentscher said with conviction.

Criticism of the planned deal, according to which the city and the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) are to jointly manage Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) in future, has come primarily from port workers, works councils, the trade union Verdi and the opposition in Hamburg’s parliament. HHLA employees even went on a wildcat strike in protest. Despite promises to the contrary, they fear for their jobs and co-determination.

Tschentscher emphasized that there were no alternatives to the participation of shipping companies in terminals. Moreover, this planned constellation is common practice in all ports around the world. The cooperation between the Hanseatic city and MSC is intended to advance Europe’s third-largest seaport in the coming years. In order for the port to be able to compete with its much larger rivals Rotterdam and Amsterdam, large investments are needed to modernize the container terminals. This primarily involves further automation and thus faster and more favorable handling for customers.

MSC and the city recently cleared an important hurdle. Following the takeover bid by the world’s largest shipping company to HHLA shareholders, both partners now hold significantly more than 90 percent of the shares and thus a “creative majority”. The economic authority does not expect any complications under antitrust law. Thanks to the two-thirds majority of the red-green coalition in the city hall, the approval of the city council is also likely to be assured.

MSC and the city want to increase HHLA’s equity by 450 million euros. The shipping company also wants to increase its cargo volume from 2025 onwards and increase it to an additional one million standard containers per year by 2031. MSC is already involved in around 70 terminals worldwide via a subsidiary, for example in Bremerhaven in a joint venture with Eurogate. MSC is privately owned by the Aponte family and also operates a significant cruise business with MSC Cruises./klm/DP/zb


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