Hapag-Lloyd goes on about its business, HHLA offer not interesting
German shipping and container transport giant, Hapag-Lloyd has decided to pool its infrastructure holdings in a single entity based in Rotterdam, Hapag-Lloyd Terminal Holding. It is well in line with the comments made by the company’s CEO Rolf Habben Jansen that it is not interested in bidding for Hamburger Hafen und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft (HHLA) shares against MSC.
Earlier this week, MSC offered to buy a 49.9 per cent stake in HHLA, for €16.75 per share, a 57 per cent premium to the 30-day volume weighted average price. Immediately after, comments by German media reported that the logistics entrepreneur and billionaire, Klaus-Michael Kühne were brought up in the media, with him urging Hapag-Lloyd to bid for the HHLA shares.
The HHLA conundrum
Responding to Project Cargo Journal, Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd said, “Hapag-Lloyd takes note of HHLA’s announcement of a voluntary public takeover bid by the MSC Group. We assume that this will not affect our cooperation with HHLA.”
Furthermore, speaking to Reuters, Habben Jansen said that a counteroffer is not in Hapag-Lloyd’s interest and the company could instead cut its traffic through the hub. If MSC offer goes through, although there is opposition from the German United Service Union (ver.di), a source in Hapag-Lloyd told Reuters, it would be an “affront” to pay terminal fees to one of its biggest competitors.
Hapag-Lloyd could instead cut down its transport to Central Europe through Hamburg to some 70 or 80 per cent of its current volumes, seeing more advantages for the company in the Port of Wilhelmshaven.
Creating Hapag-Lloyd Terminal Holding
The company, it seems, has simply gone on about its business and created the Hapag-Lloyd Terminal Holding. The new unit will be headed by Dheeraj Bhatia who has not only been named the CEO of the entity but has also been added to Hapag-Lloyd’s Executive Board, effective January 1, 2024.
Bhatia has more than 20 years of experience in the container shipping business. During this time, he has held several international management positions, including at Norasia Container Lines Limited and CSAV. In 2014, Bhatia joined Hapag-Lloyd as Managing Director and initially headed Area India. Since 2018, he has been based in Dubai and serving as Senior Managing Director of Region Middle East. At the same time, he has been a member of Hapag-Lloyd’s Executive Committee.
“With Dheeraj Bhatia’s appointment, we are gaining a proven expert in container shipping for the Executive Board of Hapag-Lloyd AG. Thanks to his international experience, the Supervisory Board is firmly convinced that the development, expansion and integration of our terminal portfolio will be in the best of hands,” said Michael Behrendt, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Hapag-Lloyd AG.
A new Terminal & Infrastructure portfolio will be established on the Executive Board. Bhatia will thus be the first Indian national as well as the fifth member of the Executive Board – alongside CEO Rolf Habben Jansen, CIO/CHRO Donya-Florence Amer, CFO/CPO Mark Frese and COO Dr Maximilian Rothkopf.