The shipowner CMA-CGM flies to the rescue of Brittany Ferries, in great difficulty, and the two companies take the opportunity to establish a “Commercial partnership”, particularly in freight destined for the United Kingdom. The terms of the agreement were unveiled on Tuesday, September 14, within the framework of the Assises of the economy of the sea, which brought together the sector in Nice until September 15.
With 85% British passengers, the ferry company created in 1972 in Roscoff (Finistère) had already been severely shaken by Brexit from 2016. The Covid-19 pandemic precipitated the collapse of its core business : cross-Channel passenger traffic. The number of travelers fell from 2.5 million in 2019 to 750,000 a year later and to less than 550,000 this year. It resulted in a loss of 220 million euros over the 2019 and 2020 financial years, and a 57% decline in turnover last year.
The situation should improve in 2022 and ticket sales start again, we note at Brittany Ferries. While waiting for the clearing up, the government and local elected officials had to finance the rescue of the company and its 2,474 employees: at the end of 2020, it had accumulated 173 million euros in emergency aid from the State, to which were added 85 million euros paid by the regions of Brittany and Normandy. During his speech at the Assises de l ́Economie de la Mer, Tuesday, the President of the Republic greeted “This wonderful agreement” and declared “Unwaveringly alongside our Breton friends”.
Giving confidence to shareholders
At the start of the summer, the CEO of Marseille giant CMA-CGM, Rodolphe Saadé, and the chairman of the Breton shipowner supervisory board, Jean-Marc Roué, started discussions on a “Synergies agreement” in several areas: cooperation in freight, sharing of experience in the use of ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), such as safety and crew training, and financial support from CMA-CGM.
The investment of 25 million euros by the world number three in container transport in Brittany Ferries is a breath of fresh air as it seeks to raise 50 million euros in bonds convertible into shares. CMA-CGM will subscribe for 10 million bonds and will grant a loan of 15 million repayable between five to eight years, after repayment of the loan guaranteed by the State of 117 million euros granted to Brittany Ferries. One of its directors will sit on the supervisory board of the Roscoff group.
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