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Swissterminal Group takes over operation of three French inland ports

Swissterminal Group takes over operation of three French inland ports

Swissterminal has announced it will take over operations of the three French inland ports Ottmarsheim, Huningue-Village-Neuf and Ile Napoléon in the course of 2021. The company has won an international tender to operate the three Alsatian ports. For this reason, the Switzerland-based integrated logistics operator will form the new company Alsaceterminal, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swissterminal International AG.

As legal and supporting structure behind Swissterminal’s new activities in France serves a newly established company called Alsaceteam, a joint venture with the French seaports of Le Havre and Marseille-Fos. As part of this public-private partnership, Alsaceteam will take 39% equity in Euro Rhine Ports, the successor of the former publicly owned port company Ports de Mulhouse Rhin. Euro Rhine Ports is the new concessionaire of the ports of Ottmarsheim, Huningue-Village-Neuf and Ile Napoléon. The majority shareholder of Euro Rhine Ports is the Syndicat Mixte des Ports du Sud-Alsace, which is composed of five public partners: Grand-Est region, Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération (M2A), Saint-Louis Agglomération (SLA), Voies Navigables France (VNF) and the Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie (CCI). Operator of three Alsatian ports is Alsaceterminal.

With this move, Swissterminal and its partners will improve transport connections within Europe for the forwarding industry on the border triangle region. In future, new rail connections will closely link this important economic region for numerous industries such as e.g. chemicals, metals, food processing and construction to the two main French seaports of Le Havre and Marseille-Fos. At the same time, inland shipping to the largest North Range ports of Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Antwerp (Belgium) will be strengthened.

Ottmarsheim, located on the Rhine river 15 km northeast of Mulhouse, is the largest of the three ports and features over 132 hectares. The annual capacity of this modern trimodal container terminal (rail/barge/truck) with a direct rail connection is currently approximately 200,000 TEU, but can be expanded according to market requirements. With the new operator, this container port will be further integrated into the transport networks of Swissterminal and its partners. In addition to direct shipping to Rotterdam and Antwerp, the port will benefit from direct rail connections to Le Havre and Marseille as well as links via Birsfelden (Switzerland) to Genoa (Italy) and China.

The current bulk-goods port in Huningue-Village-Neuf, also located on the Rhine river and about 35 km southeast of Mulhouse, will be developed into a trimodal transhipment centre (rail/barge/truck) for container traffic with Switzerland by 2025. The terminal directly borders Basel (Switzerland) and Weil am Rhein (Germany). In the first construction phase, 240 m of quay length and over 2 hectares of container yard will be added. A further 160 m quay length and an additional 1.5 hectares of container space are planned. The goal is to achieve an annual capacity of more than 100,00 TEU. Huningue-Village-Neuf will replace Swissterminal’s existing container handling facilities in Basel-Kleinhueningen. This terminal will be lost by 2029 latest due to other plans by the Swiss authorities.

The third port site in the Ile Napoléon industrial zone is just outside Mulhouse city limits on the Rhine-Rhône Canal. It will continue to serve for conventional cargo handling of bulk goods and fuels.

The new operating company Alsaceterminal will integrate the current employees in the three locations. Lionel Husser will serve as CEO of Alsaceterminal, following a ten-year career managing the container terminals at the Port Autonome de Strasbourg and four years as General Deputy Manager of the Alsatian subsidiary of Group Charles Andre (GCA).

Roman Mayer, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Swissterminal, comments: “We are delighted to have won the tender for operating the ports of Huningue-Village-Neuf, Ile Napoléon and Ottmarsheim. Much to our disappointment, we will not be able to expand our activities in the Port of Switzerland (Schweizerische Rheinhäfen). However, with Euro Rhine Ports and the port operation by Alsaceterminal, we now have the solution and are able to grow our terminal network. In these three new ports, we provide our customers access to additional space for logistics growth as well as increased storage and handling capacities. Compared to the small Kleinhueningen terminal in Basel, the possibilities for development are endless.”

He adds: “Our goal is to significantly increase the utilisation and efficiency of the three Alsatian ports to offer the industry additional opportunities and to meet future market needs. The Huningue-Village-Neuf, Ile Napoléon and Ottmarsheim sites will be integrated into the existing network of Swissterminal and our partner DP World and tremendously improve transport connections in this part of Europe.”

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