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Ghent Port Company and Zeeland Seaports investigate merger


The Flemish Ghent Port Company and the Dutch Zeeland Seaports are taking further steps to strengthen their cooperation, with a merger as ‘a remote prospect’. In the past few months, the port authorities conducted an investigation into the opportunities and possibilities of a cooperation. They received support from the McKinsey office in executing this task. By the end of April 2017, both port authorities want to know if a merger is the best option. The investigation is for both companies a logical consequence of the already existing intense cooperation, the location, comparable size of the port areas and the strategic overlap. On Monday, November 7, 2016 both companies signed a declaration of intent to this purpose at the Ghent city hall.

It was the president of Ghent Port Company, Mathias De Clercq and the president of the Board of Commissioners of Zeeland Seaports, Roelf H. de Boer with their respective CEOs Daan Schalck and Jan Lagasse who signed the declaration of intent in the early evening. This under the supervising eye of the Flemish prime minister Geert Bourgeois and the Flemish minister of Mobility and Public works Ben Weyts and of the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and minister Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and the Environment. The signing was the closing event of the Flemish-Dutch Summit at the Pacification hall of the Ghent city hall.

Six months of investigation
In the coming six months, Ghent Port Company and Zeeland Seaports (with the port areas of Flushing, Terneuzen and Borsele) will be investigating the possibilities in the fields of tax law, administrative and legal structures, relationships with national and regional authorities, port dues and fees for concessions and service rendering, among other things.

A logical consequence
This further cooperation, on a basis of equality, is a logical consequence of location, comparable size and the strategic overlapping of both port authorities. As a matter of fact, it concerns one single connected economic zone from Flushing, Borsele and Terneuzen till Ghent. The size and strategy of both port authorities are comparable in many fields (focus on clustering of activities, bulk ports, important industrial presence, high added value and high level of employment). Also, at this moment both companies are already cooperating on different levels (the New Lock, joint shipping assistance, joint promotion of commercial assets of the region at fairs and management of the port infrastructure).

New dynamics
Both managements stand for 100% behind the merger investigation, exactly because of the interests for the companies in the port and the socioeconomic importance of the region.
Jan Lagasse, CEO of Zeeland Seaports: “In our firm belief, an intensive cooperation yields nothing but advantages. Advantages for the existing and new companies that will find a strong partner to support them, advantages for the regions involved that – with a combined port authority – will reach the top in Europe and advantages for both port authorities and their co-workers that with a bigger critical mass will be able to operate in an even more professional way. This will no doubt create new dynamics in the Flemish-Dutch Delta.”

Daan Schalck, CEO of Ghent Port Company: “This is the most beautiful project until now for Ghent. Together, we will enter the top 10 of the European ports.”
“Moreover, this means a lot for the strength we can display as a port in an increasingly more global field of influence. This increased strength is also very positive for the companies in the port but equally for the region”, says Mathias De Clercq, president of Ghent Port Company.

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