CMA CGM is set to take a “quasi-equity” stake in French cross-Channel ferry operator Brittany Ferries.
The two carriers have signed a letter of intent to “unlock synergies between the two companies in passenger and freight transport.”
CMA CGM will invest €25 million ($29.5 million) in Brittany Ferries, which has suffered a torrid pandemic as passenger volumes fell sharply following closures and came perilously close to financial ruin.
Revenue in 2020 more than halved to €202.4 million from €469 million in 2019 as passenger numbers fell to 750,000 from the 2.5 million it carried in 2019.
The investment includes €10 million in “quasi-equity,” and will see a CMA CGM executive take a seat on the ferry operator’s board, while the deal also includes making cross-Channel cargo capacity on Brittany Ferries’ vessels available for the container line.
The companies added: “The carriage of goods on board Brittany Ferries’ ro-ro vessels will contribute to expanding the CMA CGM group’s offering in the ro-ro sector for the Atlantic and the north coast of France to destinations in the UK.”
At the same time, CMA CGM is expected to help Brittany strategically refocus its operations on unaccompanied trailer traffic, which has experienced high growth rates on cross-Channel services since the pandemic and the UK’s exit from the single market.
“The partnership with CMA CGM will also pave the way for Brittany Ferries to gain more cargo and logistics expertise. It will help the company adapt more easily to post-19 freight trends, including the transport of unaccompanied trailers, and offer new transport services in order to better meet the needs of its customers,” the statement said.
Brittany Ferries has also drawn up plans to launch an unaccompanied trailer service on the French Atlantic coast rail network between Bayonne and Cherbourg by the end of 2022.
The two carriers also share an interest in LNG as an alternative fuel for ships. CMA CGM has led the way in the container sector, while Brittany Ferries is to introduce two new LNG-fueled ferries on its Spain-UK network, in the form of the Salamanca and the Santoña, to be deployed next year and in 2023 respectively.
The companies added that they hope to jointly develop new routes.