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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

JP Morgan says it won’t sell Noatum

JP Morgan Asset Management is reaffirming its “long-term support and investment” in Noatum by launching a €100 million redevelopment project in the port of Valencia. The asset manager says that there is no truth to the rumours that it is considering selling the Spanish-based terminal operator.

The redevelopment works in Valencia, which received approval from the port authority in late 2013, will start this year, Robert Hardy, executive director in OECD Infrastructure investments at JP Morgan, told Port Finance International.

Noatum is owned 67% by JP Morgan and 33% by Dutch pension fund APG.

The Noatum terminal in Valencia is to be expanded in phases: most of the civil works are expected to be completed in the first 12 months of the project, with additional works and equipment coming later, as volume dictates.

The works on the Muelle de Costa will add 538m of quay line (to the existing 1,780m) and 24 hectares of yard space (+25% approximately). The rail links in the dock area will be extended by 250m to allow for longer trains.

“We don’t want to be faced with growth restrictions over the medium term,” Mr Hardy told PFI during a phone interview on Monday. “There will be an absolute uplift in our total TEU capacity but more importantly it allows us to do a complete reorganisation of the facilities and the layout of our facilities, particularly with regard to empties’ storage and handling, which frees up significant future capacity.”

The JP Morgan director said that this reorganisation will reduce the amount of time involved in moving empties and other containers. “There is absolutely some efficiency gains there, which will allow us to pass on cost-efficiency savings through to customers when we’re having negotiations around contracts.”

“In terms of new customers, we’re seeing the same trends as everyone else in terms of grouping and alliances between the different shipping lines. But one of the reasons we’ve invested in and continue to invest in Valencia is the location of the facilities, their connectivity by rail and road, and also it is a transshipment hub – very, very well connected – and we see that as a huge attraction to shipping lines. So we believe that Valencia is a natural port choice for an operator like P3.”

“We’re very positive about the future prospects,” he continued. “We wouldn’t be making this kind of investments if we didn’t see fairly significant growth through Valencia in the future, whether that comes through new customers or growth in the network of existing customers – fantastic either way.”

Mr Hardy said that this €100M investment in Valencia demonstrates JP Morgan’s strategy of “continued long-term support and investment in our assets.”

“There have been some rumours to the contrary in the market with regard to our intentions for Noatum and for Noatum Maritime. But this shows that we continue to invest and grow these businesses for the future.”

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