DFDS swoops for Turkey's leading ro-ro operator in Mediterranean expansion

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 12 Apr 2018

Danish shipping and logistics group DFDS has acquired Turkey’s largest operator of ro-ro freight ships, in a £828 million move that will massively expand its operations in the Mediterranean.

The deal by the company that has its major UK operations headquartered in Immingham, will see it become a leading player in the strong and continuously growing trade between the EU and Turkey, subject to regulatory approval. 

UN Ro-Ro operates five routes connecting Italy and France with Turkey, 12 ships and port terminals in Trieste and in Pendik, Istanbul, employing 500 people. In co-operation with rail operators, it also offers intermodal transport between key EU markets and the ports. DFDS currently operates a single route between France and Tunisia.

DFDS has signed an agreement to acquire 98.8 per cent of the shares in UN Ro-Ro from Turkish private equity companies Actera and Esas for 950 million Euros.

Niels Smedegaard, chief executive and president of DFDS, said: “Turkey's economy is the world’s 18th largest. Trade with the EU is extremely dynamic. Since UN Ro-Ro was founded in 1994, seaborne trade has continued to take market shares from road transport where congestion, border controls and customs formalities hinder the flow. Today, 55 per cent of the trade is seaborne – and the share continues to grow, benefiting not least UN Ro-Ro, which is the major operator in this market.

“The operation of ro-ro ships and operation of port terminals handling a high number of unaccompanied trailer units - and containers for reloading to rail transport in the ports - are very similar to DFDS' business in the North Sea. So are the goods transported – machinery, automotive parts, vehicles, electronics, computers, plastic products, textiles, clothing, food, fruit, beverages and others.

“UN Ro-Ro is a highly profitable company, and we are confident that joining forces will create new exciting opportunities as we can expand services to new customers and combine the two sales organisations.”

DFDS is even familiar with the ships as they use the same Flensburg Shipyard in Germany.

The company, which recently bought specialist logistics operator Alphatrans, said many of the trailers and containers transported between manufacturers and their customers via France and Italy will be using DFDS’ ferries in the Channel and in the North Sea. 

“I look very much forward to welcoming UN Ro-Ro to DFDS. I am also very pleased that the skilled and professional management of UN Ro-Ro have decided to stay with us and help us ensure that all our current and new employees and customers benefit from this,” Mr Smedegaard added.

MORE: Meet DFDS' new UK managing director

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