Contship Italia S.p.A. has entered into negotiations with MSC for the sale of its 50% shares in CSM Italia Gate SpA, the company that controls MCT - Medcenter Container Terminal SpA. Minister Toninelli withdraws plan to annul MCT’s concession
MCT is the concessionaire of the container terminal activities in the port of Gioia Tauro where MSC is already a partner and the main customer.
In order to speed up the deal, Contship Italia has appointed the law firm that will assist the process as well as an independent financial advisor, who has been given the task of expressing the correct value of the terminal activity and assets. During the negotiations, Medcenter Container Terminal will continue to be fully operational.
Contship Italia Group, which started and has been running the terminal for over 24 years, says it is “fully committed to safeguard the employment levels, so as to preserve the value and competitiveness of the largest Italian container terminal, a key industrial reality that plays an extremely important role for the economy of the local territory and the entire south of Italy.”
In the light of the move, Danilo Toninelli, Italy’s Minister of Infrastructure & Transport, said he would withdraw the 30-day ultimatum he gave Contship Italia and MCY at the start of this month - either come up with a new investment plan for the struggling transhipment terminal within 30 days or the concession will be withdrawn.
The first warning was issued just before Christmas last year, when Toninelli visited the port to launch Rail Hub Gioia Tauro, but at that time no specific deadline was given for the parties to come up with a new investment plan.
As a transhipment centre MCT is operating in a crowded market, so Rail Hub Gioia Tauro is seen as very important going forward. If the port can attract intermodal rail business for the north of Italy and transalpine centres, it would draw in more discretionary transhipment business as well. However, the government is not prepared to support this unless shareholders resolve their differences.
Toninelli said that when the concession was renewed for 50 years in 2003, the then shareholders of MCT made a commitment to handle 4M TEU in 2007 and 5M TEU in 2008. Last year the facility handled 2.5M TEU.
If the concession were annulled, MSC would be in pole position to take over. Previously it told the Minister it was prepared to invest €130M to renew and expand the facility. However, the Italian government is demanding employment guarantees.