Mexican investor buys stake in SSA Marine
Ownership of the parent company of SSA Marine, which describes itself as the world’s largest independent, privately-held marine terminal operator, has changed hands.
Carrix, Inc. and its parent company, FRS Capital Corp., said on Tuesday, GS Infrastructure Partners, an infrastructure fund managed by Goldman Sachs, sold its stock in FRS Capital Corp. to the founding Smith/Hemingway family.
(FRS stands for Fred R. Smith, who founded Bellingham Stevedoring Company back in 1949, the beginning of cargo handling operations for what would become SSA Marine.)
Following the exit of GS Infrastructure, Mexican investor Fernando Chico Pardo purchased a 49-percent ownership interest in FRS Capital Corp through a holding company.
Chico is chairman and chief executive officer of Promecap, a private equity investment firm dedicated to Mexican projects within diverse industries, and since 2003, he has held a controlling interest of Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR), which operates nine airports in southeastern Mexico, including Cancun’s; the company was recently granted the concession to operate San Juan’s International airport in Puerto Rico.
Carrix said as part of the deal, the Smith/Hemingway family, which retains a controlling 51-percent ownership interest, “significantly increased its investment in FRS Capital Corp. These funds will be used to continue Carrix’s growth as the largest, privately owned, independent port developer and operator in the United States and western hemisphere."
Knud Stubkjaer, Carrix's CEO, said, "With the substantial new capital injection, we are very well positioned to continue expanding our activities, enhancing existing operations and adding new terminals, as well as implementing technological upgrades. We have a major order-book for a series of new and advanced automatic stacking cranes being delivered, and we are retooling for larger and innovative ship-to-shore cranes to service the latest generation of container vessels.
“Our objectives will not change,” Stubkjaer continued. “We remain committed to operational quality, reliability, and high performance standards by working closely with our labor force and employing the most suitable methods and technology. We want to continue to be a constructive and relevant partner to our customers. To that end — and importantly — we continue with the same strong team of professionals at management and operational levels, which is essential to fulfill our objectives.”
Carrix says SSA Marine has more than 210 operations — stevedoring, marine terminal operation, rail terminal management, warehousing, trucking and other activities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Asia, New Zealand and South Africa. Carrix is also the parent company of Tideworks Technology, which it says is the second largest developer of information technology systems for marine and rail terminal management and RMS, which operates intermodal railyards at 43 facilities in 23 states.
GS Infrastructure first invested in Carrix in 2007.
Last year, Goldman Sachs named Adebayo Ogunlesi to its board of directors. Ogunlesi is also managing partner and chairman of Global Infrastructure Partners, a firm that last year paid $1.9 billion for a 35-percent stake in Terminal Investment Ltd., a terminal company affiliated with Mediterranean Shipping Company. Terminal Investment Ltd. and SSA are competitors in some locations, including Oakland, Calif., where TIL is an investor with Ports America in the Outer Harbor Terminal.
Bob Watters, senior vice president at Carrix, said the addition of capital by the new owners would allow the company to add systems and equipment at existing facilities to handle larger ships and also to develop new terminals, including a new container terminal in Tuxpan on the East Coast of Mexico that aims to serve Mexico City, and a new terminal in Cherry Point, Wash., on Puget Sound that would be able to handle up to 54 million tons annually of dry bulk commodities such as grain, potash, calcine coke, and coal.