French billionaire Bollore completes sale of African ports

French billionaire Vincent Bollore’s holding company said Wednesday it had finalised the sale of its African ports and logistics business to the MSC shipping group for 5.7 billion euros ($6.05 billion).

Bollore Africa Logistics is present in 47 African countries and runs port operations in countries from Ivory Coast to Cameroon and Nigeria, according to its website.

With competition increasing from Chinese operators and costly investments required at many facilities, the Bollore group moved to sell the business, the mainstay of the tycoon’s estimated eight-billion-euro fortune.

Italian-French shipping giant MSC, which runs a fleet of 560 vessels worldwide, is buying the assets.

“The sale price of the shares is 5.1 billion euros; 600 million euros of shareholder loans were also repaid,” the Bollore group said in a statement on its website.

Vincent Bollore officially retired as head of Bollore group in February before naming his 33-year-old son Cyrille as chairman and chief executive, but remains the controlling shareholder.

In recent years, the conservative has focused on building up a French media empire, giving him major political clout and leading to reported tensions with centrist President Emmanuel Macron.

Bollore built his family’s small printing business into a global logistics giant thanks to a blitz of acquisitions, earning him a reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator and corporate raider.

Some of his African operations have been shadowed by corruption allegations, notably port contracts in Togo and Guinea.

He has been charged in France for allegedly using his advertising firm Havas to offer cut-price PR contracts to the leader of Togo in order to win a lucrative port contract in 2009-2011.

He has appealed the French charge but the Bollore group agreed to pay a fine of 12 million euros ($14.5 million) as part of a deal with financial crime prosecutors in February last year. (AFP)

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