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Ceva's investors can now sell stock to CMA CGM

From today, Tuesday, Ceva's shareholders can sell their shares to CMA CGM at the same price as the offer made by the French carrier. Thus CMA CGM now looks set to assume control of the company. Ceva has previously been a DSV acquisition target.

Photo: PR-foto: CEVA

French shipping line CMA CGM has long wanted to become the biggest shareholder in Ceva Logistics, and from today, Tuesday, that may become possible, informs the company in a press release.

This happens as part of a public tender offer (PTO) which allows for trade between CMA CGM and Ceva Logistic's shareholders.

CMA CGM first aired its interest in Ceva back in October 2018, and two weeks ago the company announced its official offer to shareholders in the form of a prospectus, which provides a review of the outlook and the potential of Ceva Logistics.

So while the official announcement was made in late January, the actual PTO has not been launched until now. And the PTO means that shareholders intending to accept the offer can now formally sell their shares to CMA CGM.

Several major shareholders, including Goldman Sachs and Société Générale, announced their intention to sell a stake in Ceva totaling 17.6 percent to CMA CGM back when the prospectus was announced.

Along with the 33 percent of Ceva the French liner company already owns, this means that the French will in effect assume control of the Swiss-based freight forwarder.

The two companies began a partnership in early 2018, and this partnership is now being strengthened. This should be seen as part of a strategy in which CMA CGM is trying to build up its logistics business.

"By developing a logistics offering to complement our maritime activity, we will be able to propose a full 'end-to-end' service to our customers," says CMA CGM Chief Executive and Chairman Rodolphe Saadé.

Management recommended 'no'

The sale happens despite the fact that Ceva's management, in relation to publication of the prospectus, advised against a sale, arguing that the shares would likely increase in value in the years to come and thus surpass the price offered by CMA CGM to the investors.

The offer from CMA CGM is for CHF 30 per share, and this is the same price that has been in play throughout as offered by the shipping line.

Prior to the offer from CMA CGM, Denmark's DSV made two offers to buy Ceva, of which the latter was also for CHF 30 per share. Both these offers were declined.

The acquisition attempt is a 'friendly offer', mean that it has already been cleared with the board of Ceva. The EU Commission also approved the transaction this week, as it is not seen as disrupting competition.

English Edit: Ida Jacobsen & Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

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