Abu Dhabi-listed AD Ports has signed an agreement to acquire an 80% equity stake in Dubai-based Global Feeder Shipping (GFS), a global container shipping company. 

The total purchase consideration for the 80% stake amounts to AED 2.9 billion (US$ 800 million), implying a 100% enterprise value of AED 3.7 billion (US$ 1.0 billion), with the acquisition being fully funded through a new acquisition loan.

GSF has built one of the largest fleets of container ships globally, featuring 26 owned and operated vessels with a total capacity of 72,500 TEUs, covering the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia with services connecting the UAE to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Yemen, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, China, South Korea, and Vietnam, among others.

AD Ports Group will look to integrate GFS into its maritime cluster, which includes a portfolio of shipping, offshore and subsea services.

Aligning GFS services with AD Ports Group companies SAFEEN Feeders and Transmar will make AD Ports Group the world’s largest independent feeder company by vessels owned, with an owned fleet of 35 vessels, and the third largest globally by volumes carried with a total container capacity of 100,000 TEUs., according to the company.

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“The acquisition will boost AD Ports Group’s trade activities and connectivity to core markets, as well as enhance its feedering business, providing significant economies of scale through an expanded route network and fleet,” the firm noted.

“In addition, the acquisition will further strengthen the company’s hub and spoke model by linking core markets in the Gulf, Indian Subcontinent, Red Sea, and Turkey to its key port assets including Khalifa Port.”

“Our acquisition of a majority stake in GFS, which is the largest external investment in our company’s history, will deliver a step-change in the range of services we can offer and significantly enhance our global connectivity. Our ambition is to become one of the world’s leading shipping companies, offering the most comprehensive range of maritime services, and this investment moves us significantly closer to achieving that goal,”  Falah Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Chairman of AD Ports Group, said.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023. GFS’s existing management will remain in place with the founders retaining a 20% stake in the company. 

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