Speculation mounts over CMA CGM Qatar loan link
French container shipping group CMA CGM today declined to comment on a report that it is studying the offer of a $1bn loan from Qatar Investment Authority.
French financial newswire Wansquare reported that the authority is offering the loan as secured ?super-senior? debt in a move that it said was likely to meet with a hostile reaction from other CMA CGM creditors.
CMA CGM did not deny the report but said only that ?the company is currently studying many offers but cannot comment on those offers for confidential reasons until the process is completed?.
A source close to the group recently indicated that it was studying ?half a dozen? offers of financing in response to its call for investors ready to provide it with fresh capital.
A Qatari fund had been reported to be among the interested parties but there had been no indication previously as to its identity.
It had been claimed, moreover, that the fund"s proposal had the favours of the Saadé family on the grounds that it was the one which offered the best prospect for their maintaining control of the group.
?Building on the heritage of Qatar investments dating back more than three decades, its growing portfolio of long-term strategic investments help complement the state"s huge wealth in natural resources,? the fund says on its website.
It describes itself as a world class investor with an already established record of investing in a variety of asset classes, including ?listed securities, property, alternative assets and private equity in all the major capital markets as well as the newer emerging markets?.
Last year it invested around $30bn in businesses outside Oman, and Omani prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani said last week that it would likely match that this year.
Mr al-Thani visited in Paris last week, delivering a key-note speech at the 5th Finance and Investment in Qatar Forum. Referring to the Qatari Investment Authority he sad:
?Our present strategy aims at benefiting from the advantages of values that emerged in the international economy as a result of the recent crisis. We aim to invest in the areas of promising future.?
Assuming QIA is in the running for the CMA CGM project, it can be expected to find itself in competition with France"s Butler Capital Partners and Apollo Management of the US, as well as with France"s sovereign fund, Fonds Stratégique d"Investissement.
A group comprising investment bank Goldman Sachs, the Louis Dreyfus group and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs is also thought to have expressed interest in investing in CMA CGM, although a recent unconfirmed report indicated that it had broken off talks with the group.
In the meantime, CMA CGM, which is expected to give a briefing on its financial situation in late April or early May, has indicated that its operating results, which reached breakeven in the final quarter of last year, have continued to improve in January, February and March in line with still rising traffic volumes.