NEW YORK / NEW JERSEY 2007 - NY/NJ infrastructure changes proceed apace

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

German unit to acquire Maher TerminalsBy Peter A. Buxbaum, AJOTChanges are coming to some of the terminal operations and logistics facilities at the port of New York and New Jersey. Some of these involve changes in ownership, but are nonetheless momentous.
Maher Terminals, a fixture in the New York-New Jersey port area since 1946, and the operator of one of the largest container terminals in the United States, is changing hands. Family owned since its founding at the docks of New York by Michael Maher right after the end of World War II, the company’s assets will be acquired by RREEF Infrastructure, a part of RREEF Alternative Investments, the global alternatives asset management business of Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management division.
The company will retain the Maher name and the acquisition will not affect the leadership of Maher Terminals, according to Sam Crane, senior vice president for external affairs at Maher Terminals. M. Brian Maher will continue to serve as Chairman and CEO, and Basil Maher will remain as President. Maher Terminals will keep its headquarters in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
But the acquisition signals important changes that will be coming to the company. The company believes the takeover by RREEF will enable Maher Terminals to better compete on a global level, said Crane. “Backing by a major international financial institution will allow Maher Terminals to grow its existing terminal businesses and compete for additional capacity in the North American market,” he said. The diversification of Maher Terminals is already under way, with its investment in a container terminal at the port of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, a facility currently under construction that is scheduled to open later this year.
“The intention is that the Mahers will stay on for some indefinite period of time and that the company will continue to operate the Elizabeth terminal, and, when started up, the terminal in Prince Rupert,” said Crane.
RREEF was attracted to Maher for a combination of its assets and management team, according to David Kerr, an RREEF spokesperson. He termed Port Elizabeth and the Port of Prince Rupert, “two of the most prized and most promising terminals in North America.”
The investment by Maher Terminal in the Prince Rupert facility came after a period of years of looking for “diversified business opportunities,” according to Crane. “We looked at Prince Rupert a number of years ago just as we were redoing the Port Elizabeth terminal,” he said. The company saw the investment as an opportunity to serve the mid-Canada and US Midwest markets. Prince Rupert will be strictly a transshipment center serving those markets by way of the Canadian National rail system. The first phase of that project, which will have the capacity to handle 500,000 containers per year, is scheduled to open in October, after nearly four years of construction.
As for RREEF, Crane expects Maher to close the deal in June or July. The only holdup at this point is review of the transaction by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (or CFIUS), an interagency federal body which gained notoriety during the Dubai Port World debacle last year. Crane expects CFIUS to give its stamp of approval.
Port Newark Container TerminalFallout from the Dubai Port World episode, during which protests over ownership by Middle East interests of critical US infrastructure led DPW to forsake the deal, is still being felt at the port of New York and New Jersey. Earlier this year the Port Authority announced an agreement in principle that will allow Ports America, Inc., an affiliate of AIG Global Investment Group, to acquire DP World’s interest in the Port Newark Container Terminal.
The acquisition of operating rights at the Port Newark Container Terminal was part of a larger deal in which AIG will move into four other East Coast terminal and stevedoring operations, Port Newark Container Terminal being the largest of the lot. The deal had been held up by the Port

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Peter Buxbaum has been writing about international trade and transportation, as well as security, defense, technology, and foreign policy, for over 20 years. Besides contributing to the AJOT, Buxbaum's work has appeared in such leading publications as [em]Fortune, Forbes, Chief Executive, Computerworld, and Jane's Defence Weekly[/em]. He was educated at Columbia University.