Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Major Partnership Deal Between Container Line and Ferry Group

Post Covid Recovery Cited as Reason for Investment
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – Announced in a somewhat curious way, each of the two biggest shipping groups in their respective classes in the country have stated an investment from container specialist CMA CGM in freight and passenger transport ferry group Brittany Ferries, is support for the latter's post Covid recovery.

This sudden continental love affair was announced at the Assises de l’économie de la mer event, a major date on the country’s maritime calendar. The Marseille headquartered box line is to make a €25 million investment in Brittany Ferries, including €10 million in quasi-equity (risk and reward of the investment is shared between the investor and the investee). Certainly this looks like an opportunist land grab from CMA as doubtless the Roscoff based ferry group will have suffered gravely from the downturn in passenger numbers during the pandemic.

The pair say this partnership will help to ‘unlock synergies between the two companies in passenger and freight transport’. They claim harnessing the respective areas of expertise of the CMA CGM Group and Brittany Ferries, it will also help promote the development of cross-Channel shipping and underpin France’s position in the sector. Under this agreement, a representative of the CMA CGM Group will join Brittany Ferries’ Supervisory Board.

The joint statement released says that, through this agreement, both groups (in reality CMA CGM) will be able to introduce new RoRo services on the ferry outfit’s vessels through the use of ‘available cargo space’ on board Brittany Ferries’ services to the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula.

Certainly the deal gives the container specialist yet another area of logistics to get involved in, expanding its interest into the RoRo and RoPax sectors. The pair say Brittany will be helped to gain more expertise in freight and logistics and enable it to adapt more easily to the post-Covid-19 trends in goods transportation, including the transport of unaccompanied trailers, and to offer new transport services so it can better meet the needs of its customers.

The drive to cut emissions is, inevitably, touched upon with both stating they are committed to developing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power their ships, and therefore will be looking at ways of sharing their LNG knowledge and resources in areas such as training for French crews and safety procedures.

Two new LNG-powered ships are due to join Brittany Ferries’ fleet next year and in 2023. The new RoPax vessels, to be named Salamanca and Santoña, will operate services between the United Kingdom and Spain. In addition, Brittany Ferries is about to introduce a new rail freight service to expand its multimodal offering. By year-end 2022 the company will offer its customers an unaccompanied trailer transport service on the Atlantic coast rail network between Bayonne and Cherbourg.

Brittany Ferries was launched in 1972, starting operations as a freight-only business on 2nd January the following year. By contrast CMA CGM can directly trace its pedigree back to the 1850’s with a complex web of state support and acquisitions and mergers culminating in the present form with a capacity circa 2.7 million TEU making it the fourth largest container line in the world.

Photo: Galicia, the first in a series of three E-Flexer vessels built for Brittany Ferries in China. Galicia however uses closed loop scrubbers to clean emissions, rather than LNG aboard her two, soon to be launched, siblings.