CMA CGM has announced its takeover of French automotive and industrial logistics firm Gefco.

The operator is currently 75%-owned by Russian Railways (RR), with the remaining 25% in the hands of Stellantis (formerly PSA Peugeot-Citroën Group).

The ocean shipping giant said it was “acquiring nearly 100% of Gefco”, a move that “ensures the continuity and long-term stability of its business”.

It added that the deal “will accelerate Gefco’s s transformation and strengthen its development within Ceva Logistics”.

However, details of the transaction are scant, with no mention made of RR or last week’s announcement by Gefco that it had approval from its board to buy back the Russian state railways’ 75% stake. (You can read more analysis of this in Loadstar Premium.)

Nor was there any reference to the value of the deal, but reports in the French media estimate this at between €450 ($488m) to €500m – a bargain.

RR is thought to have acquired its 75% stake in Gefco from PSA Peugeot-Citroën Group in 2012 for €800m.

The speed required in getting the deal done is likely to have helped CMA get a good price. As reported in The Loadstar last week, from 12 April, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US treasury department will be applying trade sanctions to RR subsidiaries, including Gefco, making it extremely difficult for it to conduct its business. It is also unclear whether RR will receive the money, as it remains sanctioned.

And, in a separate announcement today, the automaker said it had sold its 25% stake to CMA CGM.

Rodolphe Saadé, chairman and CEO of CMA CGM Group, said: “The acquisition of Gefco represents a further step in our development strategy and strengthens our position as a global player in transport and logistics. With Gefco, our subsidiary Ceva will become the world leader in automotive logistics, having recently enhanced its capabilities in e-commerce logistics with the acquisition of Ingram Micro CLS.”

Luc Nadal, Gefco’s CEO, said: “The project led by CMA CGM will allow Gefco to continue our activity in a stable environment, will support the transformation we have initiated and will strengthen our development in the years to come. This link between two French companies will bring many opportunities for Gefco in terms of innovation and sustainable growth, particularly internationally, for the benefit of our customers.”

CMA CGM said the acquisition had been submitted to competition authorities for approval, adding: “However, as part of a special procedure, the European Commission has authorised CMA CGM to acquire the capital of Gefco immediately, pending the final approval that will take place in the coming months.”

A senior road transport labour union official, representing some of Gefco’s staff, said he had received very little information about the deal.

“All I know is that the French ministry of finance has been informed and that the EU, the US and the UK have given their agreement (to the deal),” he told The Loadstar.

Gefco describes itself as “the number-one in Europe for automotive logistics”, and as being among “the top 10 global supply chain partners in the world”. In its latest financial statement, it reported revenue of €2.2bn for the half-year to 30 June 2021, an increase of 25.6%, versus H1 20 (+28.1% on a like-for-like basis).

A “record-high” recurring ebit totalled €118.8m, and the small but growing Air & Sea division turned in a particularly strong performance.

Gefco operates from more than 300 locations in 47 countries and employs a global workforce of 11,500.

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