Maryland Port Moves Forward on Public-Private Solicitation

We have been following the development of public-private partnerships (PPP) in the port arena in my previous commentaries. The Maryland Port Authority (MPA) is one we are watching as MPA issued a request on April 15, 2009 for a private investor to lease and operate the Port of Baltimore’s 200 acre Seagirt Marine Terminal, bring in the cranes and provide other improvements including a new 50-foot berth to increase the capacity of Seagirt.

MPA announced on June 30, 2009 that Ceres Terminals, Inc./Alinda Capital Partners LLC and Ports America Group/Highstar Capital had qualified to submit offers to enter a possible public-private partnership (PPP) agreement with the MPA to operate Seagirt Marine Terminal in the Port of Baltimore.

Ceres Terminals along with parent shipping company NYK Shipping Line operates 32 terminals around the world. Ceres handles more than 3.0 million TEU containers annually at 23 ports in Canada and the United States. Ceres currently performs some stevedoring services at Seagirt and has had a presence in Baltimore for more than 30 years. Allinda Capital Partners is an infrastructure fund, with $5.8 billion in capital commitments and about $15 billion in purchasing power.

Ports America operates 15 container terminals in North America with a combined throughput of near 13 million TEUs annually. The company has operated Seagirt since the terminal opened in 1990. Ports America is owned by Highstar Capital Fund L.P., a $3.5 billion private equity fund.

MPA will now issue a confidential request for offers document to each group, specifying terms, conditions, and other financial responsibilities of a PPP lease at Seagirt Marine Terminal. Offers will be due to the MPA on September 4. 2009

We will continue to follow this closely.