The governor of Virginia said APM Terminals is hoping to sell its state-of-the-art container terminal in Portsmouth and that talks will begin soon, according to an article in the Virginia Pilot
But, Gov. Terry McAuliffe told the newspaper that the price APM Terminals has asked for the facility was “unreasonable and unacceptable.” He indicated that the price was more than $600 million, but did not name an exact amount.
The possible sale to the state is the latest twist in a long-running saga since the facility opened in September 2007.
Built at a cost of $450 million, the 291-acre terminal (on 576 acres of land), is the largest privately owned container terminal in the U.S. It was built to handle 1 million TEUs annually, with the potential to handle more than 2 million TEUs.
But, the terminal was beset with problems from the get-go, when the Virginia Port Authority and its Virginia International Terminal subsidiary locked nearly all the potential users of the new terminal with long-term contacts at its existing facilities, leaving APM Terminals with few prospective users other than its sister company, Maersk Line. With low volumes, the facility was not able to be optimally used.
APM Terminals agreed to lease the facility to the VPA in 2010, which then moved many of those carriers to the APM Terminal.
APM Terminals circulated an offering for a "sale process" in the fourth quarter of 2011 for the Portsmouth facility, with the long-term VPA lease as part of the deal. That failed to attract a buyer, and in 2012, APM Terminals made an unsolicited offer to take over operation of all the VPA’s terminals. That offer was eventually rejected by the state.
While APM Terminals could continue as a landlord and collect rent from the state until its lease expires in 2030, sources said APM Terminals may prefer to sell the facility to the state and then reinvest the funds on terminals where it sees more opportunity for growth, or where it has more control over operations, and put its expertise as terminal developer and operator to best use.
APM Terminals in February said it had agreed to sell a half interest in its terminal in Elizabeth, N.J., to Brookfield Asset Management
Neither Maersk nor McAuliffe's office were available for comment.