Maritime transport: MSC wants to use Clasquin to strengthen its positions in Africa
logistics | SupplyChain | Shipping
Par Ibrahima DIALLO
22 December 2023 / 10:38

Italian group MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA, a world leader in maritime transport and logistics, has entered into exclusive negotiations with Lyon-based ETI Clasquin, a forwarding agent. The main aim is to optimise its positions in Africa, which it gained a year ago with the acquisition of Bolloré Africa Logistics.

Just one year ago, the Swiss-Italian giant MSC, world leader in maritime transport and logistics with 800 ships and 200,000 employees, made a deal with the Bolloré group. It swallowed up Bolloré's transport and logistics assets on the African continent for 5.7 billion euros: 21,000 employees, sixteen container terminals, seven others for road traffic, as well as 5,000 kilometres of rail track in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

MSC's interest in Lyon-based transport operator Clasquin, with which it has just entered into exclusive negotiations, is said to stem directly from these African ambitions, which were made clear in the mega-deal signed with Bolloré, which created the Africa Global Logistics entity to succeed Bolloré Africa Logistics.

"MSC now has a large number of assets in Africa and a leading position. What it lacked was the transport organisation skills that would enable it to develop its flows between Africa and the rest of the world.

It's a skill we have at Clasquin, since organising transport (sea, air, rail and road) is precisely our speciality", explains Yves Revol, Chairman of Clasquin's Board of Directors and a 42% shareholder in the company he took over in 1982.

According to Yves Revol, MSC's interest in Clasquin has been heightened by the Lyon-based ETI's acquisition last spring of the Moroccan group Tinmar, an international transport organiser, road operator and logistics service provider with sales of €60 million. Africa now accounts for 20% of Clasquin's global flows.

A basis for discussion at 325 million euros

The exclusive negotiations that have just begun, conducted by Shipping Agencies Services (an MSC subsidiary), concern the entire 42% stake held by Yves Revol. If they are successful, after an audit by MSC's advisers and a green light from the competition authorities, they should be followed by a takeover bid for the remaining shares in the company's capital, representing 44.5% of the free float on the Euronext Paris stock market.

Le prix d’acquisition des actions serait alors déterminé sur la base d’une valeur d’entreprise de 325 millions d’euros. Une annonce qui a, ces derniers jours, dopé le cours en bourse de l’action Clasquin. Le management de l’entreprise détient de son côté environ 13 % du capital.

According to the information provided, Clasquin's current Managing Director, Hugues Morin, is to continue in his role and Clasquin will continue to operate under its own brand, with its current organisation. Clasquin currently has 85 branches in 25 countries and 1,600 employees, including 150 in Lyon, divided between its head office and sales offices.

Last year, the Lyon-based company posted sales of 877 million euros (up 16.6% on 2021), 315,742 transactions (up 5.5%) and a consolidated net profit of 23.7 million euros (up 25.4%). However, the first half of 2023 was less sparkling, with growth of 5.7% compared with the same period last year and consolidated net profit down 46.7%.

Clasquin points out that net profit for the first half of the year (€6.6 million) is three times what it was before Covid, and refers to a return to "normative profitability of 16.3%".

For Yves Revol, who joined Clasquin in 1976 as a salesman before taking over the reins six years later, this sale to the MSC group (if confirmed) will be an opportunity to make a fine exit, at the age of 76, from the company whose development he has steered for four decades to make it one of Lyon's finest ETIs:

"Over the last twenty years, I've received a number of takeover proposals. The one from MSC came at the right time. At 76, it's time for me to retire. MSC presented me with a superb project, in the continuity of what we have built". In 1982, when Yves Revol bought the company, Clasquin had just twelve employees.

Stéphanie Gallo Triouleyre

La Tribune 

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