SHIPPING

Grimaldi eyes local expansion

grimaldi-eyes-local-expansion

“I wish to expand further in Greece,” both in coastal shipping and in the ports industry, Grimaldi group strongman Emanuele Grimaldi told Kathimerini at a recent press conference in the context of the annual EuroMed Convention in Valencia, Spain.

After explaining how he tried and failed to buy out Hellenic Seaways, Grimaldi said that he will assess his future options regarding possible business moves in Greece, if there is the possibility of the concession of some services or the group’s main rival shipper, the Attica Group.

These statements by the owner of Minoan Lines come at a time when fellow Cretan ferry company ANEK and the Attica Group are in advanced talks with creditor banks concerning the absorption of the former by the latter. If the creditors eventually agree with the proposal on the table, a group with a very strong fleet will be created, rivaling Seajets in the Cyclades, and Grimaldi Group’s Minoan Lines in the services of Crete and the Adriatic.

Commenting on such a prospect and on competition in Greece generally, Grimaldi explained that, for Minoan, there are two players in Greek coastal shipping: his company and Attica, citing the fact that ANEK and Attica have been cooperating on routes to Crete and the Adriatic for 10 years.

He also noted his interest in the ports both of Igoumenitsa, on the mainland opposite Corfu, and of Iraklio, on Crete, that are being offered through concession tenders by state privatization fund TAIPED, as well as in Corfu port. Sources put the Italian entrepreneur in talks with a small ferry company that provides local services in the northern Ionian Sea for a possible cooperation; this has generated expectations for the takeover of that company.

Nevertheless Grimaldi was clear that his priority at this stage is the two ports TAIPED has put up for sale. He also stressed that his group is the biggest player in the ports of Igoumenitsa and Iraklio, and, if it does assume control of them, it will not manage them passively but operate proactively through investments toward the development of logistics centers.

He also did not conceal his annoyance with the Piraeus port fee rise.