Turkish group bails out France's CMA CGM

26th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Turkish family concern Yildirim has bailed out heavily indebted shipping giant CMA CGM by acquiring 20 percent of the French firm for 500 million dollars (380 million euros), the companies said.

The deal follows more than a year of talks seeking a potential investor and gives Yildirim, active in oil and shipping, three seats on CMA CGM's board of directors.

It takes the form of convertible five-year bonds, after which period CMA CGM could buy back the shares if it floats on the stock market.

"We took the time to find the partner, a candidate with whom the family wanted to build its future," said CMA CGM deputy chief executive officer Rodolphe Saade.

"This is our biggest investment in Europe," said Robert Yildirim, who heads the Turkish family group.

The French firm had been crippled by debts of over five billion dollars but creditor banks have agreed to finance its development once more.

The question of management remains, however, as previous CMA CGM suitors, including Yildirim, had demanded that the company's founder and CEO Jacques Saade leave the board of directors.

"We will look at the terms of governance in the coming weeks," said Jacques' son, Rodolphe.

The company, the world's third largest container operator, has seen its business pick up in the last nine months long with world trade, notably coming from Asia to Europe.

© 2010 AFP

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