MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-biggest container line, offered to buy the African transport and logistics business of Bollore SA for 5.7 billion euros ($6.4 billion) including debt.

Geneva-based MSC has been granted exclusivity until March 31 to put forward a formal bid, Bollore, the Paris-based group founded by the family of French billionaire Vincent Bollore, said in a statement Monday.

Bollore shares climbed almost 12% in early trading Tuesday, their biggest jump since Feb. 15, and were priced up 10% at 4.77 euros as of 9:31 a.m. in Paris.

The French transportation and media conglomerate had appointed Morgan Stanley to seek buyers for Bollore Africa Logistics, Le Monde reported in October, when it suggested that Denmark-based A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s No. 1 container shipper, and rival CMA CGM SA of France were interested in bidding.

The unit generated 2.1 billion euros in revenue last year and would be valued at between 2 billion and 3 billion euros, the newspaper reported at the time.

Bollore said in its statement that a sale would take the form of MSC submitting a put option that Bollore could exercise after consulting with employees and completing an internal reorganization. The deal would also require the approval of regulators and counter-parties of Bollore Africa Logistics.

The logistics division is Africa’s biggest player in the sector, with almost 21,000 employees in 49 countries, according to the group’s website. The business is active in 42 ports, including 16 container terminals, seven roll-on, roll-off ferry ports and two wood terminals. It also has a network of 85 maritime shipping agencies and operates three rail concessions.

Closely held MSC has a fleet of 600 vessels, more than 100,000 staff and serves 500 ports.

Container lines have enjoyed their most profitable year ever in 2021 as the Covid-19 pandemic boosts demand for goods and puts pressure on supply chains, spurring oceanic-freight rates to record levels.

Copyright Bloomberg.com

Ms Ania Nussbaum & Mr Christopher Jasper

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