Belgian Port of Antwerp and Port of Zeebrugge have given the green light for starting negotiations regarding a possible merger.
As explained, the decision of the port authorities is based on the findings of a study carried out by independent consultants.
Last year, the two port authorities hired Deloitte and Laga to conduct the joint economic complementarity and robustness study. The goal was to evaluate the current forms of cooperation between the ports of Zeebrugge and Antwerp as well as the potential added value of other types of cooperation.
According to the duo, the ports’ interests and synergy benefits were at the forefront of the abovementioned study.
Specifically, the study found that the ongoing forms of collaboration between the two ports have little impact due to existing competition, a limited scope, and insufficient commitment. However, both ports are highly complementary and share the same external challenges, the consultants pointed out in the study.
Deloitte stressed that far-reaching cooperation would make both ports robust in the existing segments they operate, support employment and strengthen their role in the region and internationally. What is more, the merger would enable a faster and better response to future challenges such as scaling up, energy transition, innovation and digitalization.
The consultants concluded that the integration-focused cooperation would be a win-win solution for both port authorities.
It is expected that the phased merger process would last two years.
The latest merger talks between Zeebrugge and Antwerp come almost two years after two other ports in the region combined their operations into a cross-border port, the North Sea Port. In December 2017, Dutch Zeeland Seaports and Belgium-based Ghent Port Company signed an agreement to merge, positioning North Sea Port among the top European sea ports.