The Danish group, which owns APM Terminals – among the world’s biggest container terminal operators – will take a 37.5 per cent stake in Global Ports, one of the three London-listed subsidiaries of N-Trans, the Russian private transport group.
Under the deal, which depends on regulatory approval, APM Terminals will take half of the 75 per cent stake in Global Ports held by N-Trans for $840m in cash and assume about $20m of the Russian operator’s debt.
Kim Fejfer, APM Terminals’ chief executive, dismissed concerns about the investment. Other foreign investors, such as BP, the oil major, and Telenor and TeliaSonera, the Scandinavian telecom groups, have become embroiled in drawn-out disputes with their Russian partners after similar equity investments in their respective sectors, which are all deemed strategic by the Kremlin.
"We think this is a calculated risk and we have carefully chosen our partner here, who we have known for a long time,” Mr Fejfer told the FT.
Global Ports has a 30 per cent share of the Russian container market, making it the country’s biggest operator. It is largely focused on the Baltic, operating two container terminals at St Petersburg, the country’s biggest container port by throughput, and has operations at Kotka and Helsinki in Finland and Muuga in Estonia. It also operates the container port at Vostochny on Russia’s Pacific coast.
Global Ports listed a 25 per cent stake as global depositary receipts in London last year at $15 per share. As part of the deal, which values the GDRs at $14.70, the two biggest shareholders will reduce the voting rights of their holdings, in effect increasing the voting rights of the free float to 40 per cent.
N-Trans is owned by Andrei Filatov, Konstantin Nikolaev and Nikita Mishin. Since 2008, the three billionaires, who are close to the Kremlin, have also floated Globaltrans, the rail freight operator, and bridge builder Mostotrest. Mr Mishin will remain chairman of Global Ports, while APMT and N-Trans will have the right to appoint six board members each, along with two independent directors.
Eero Vanaale, an analyst at Drewry, the shipping specialists, said Russia was attractive because it had among the highest growth rates in container shipping in the world, with the market forecast to grow at 10 per cent a year on average to the end of the decade.
Global Ports reported revenues of $501m in the year to the end of 2011, with adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $282m.
By Mark Odell in London and Courtney Weaver in Moscow