Port of Ghent invites province and municipalities to participate in its capital
The Port of Ghent is to become a public limited company plc and will invite the Province of East Flanders and the municpalities of Evergem and Zelzate to have a stake in its capital in the short term. This was announced by managing director of the Ghent port authority Daan Schalck during the Flemish economic trade mission to Morocco led by Flemish minister-president Kris Peeters CD&V. The Ghent harbour is an autonomous municipal port authority that is fully owned by the city of Ghent, but also extends into the territory of other municipalities such as the 400 hectares it covers in Evergem and Zelzate. “We, as the port management, often make decisions that have an impact on the territory of these municipalities, for example when we grant concessions,” explains Schalck. Ghent will retain a share of 85% to 90% in the new public limited company and the East Flanders province will become the second shareholder, with Evergem and Zelzate each receiving a minor share. Harbours like Amsterdam and Rotterdam as well as Zeeland Seaport and Zeebrugge have opted for the statute of a plc in recent years. Ostend and Antwerp meanwhile remain autonomous municipal port authorities. Last year Ghent harbour transhipped 50 million tons of freight; 27.2 million by sea and 22.8 million tons via inland shipping. The traffic is set to drop by about 3% this year. “The decline is mostly due to the economic crisis and to a shift in the type of products we have transhipped: coal is not doing that well, but grain products are doing better. The crisis has also affected the automobile industry,” says Schalck. The Ghent harbour has also welcomed two new multinationals that will come on board in 2014: CBL a Brazilian logistics company, and Duval, a subsidiary of the German chemical group Solvadis are both awaiting their environmental permits and are geared to start construction. CBL plans to invest 70 million in the harbour and will build a 400 000 m³ storage facility for oil products and biofuel on a 12 hectare site. Duval, a subsidiary of Solvadis, plans to build an installation for the vaporisation and solidification of sulphur, for which they need 2 hectares.