MSC, the largest container carrier by capacity, has agreed to acquire 49.9% of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft HHLA, a port terminal and logistics company.

Under a binding memorandum of understanding, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg will hold a 50.1% stake in HHLA, and MSC will hold up to 49.9% of the company. HHLA is to be operated as a joint venture.

The partnership is stipulated for an indefinite time, with a termination possible after 40 years at the earliest.

In a statement, MSC said it would increase the container volume at HHLA terminals in Hamburg beginning in 2025. It intends to increase throughput to at least 1 million TEU per year from 2031 onwards.

In addition, MSC said it would establish its new German headquarters with several hundred employees in Hamburg.

Furthermore, MSC and the City of Hamburg also agree to commit on a long-term investment plan to be developed in alignment with HHLA.

“The aim of the partnership is to establish a strong and well-funded basis for the further development of HHLA and the entire Port of Hamburg, making it a central hub for MSC’s globally connected network of container services and logistics chains,” the company said in a statement.

“MSC thereby acquires a strategic share in a leading European logistics company, with a network of container terminals in Hamburg, Odesa, Tallinn and Trieste, excellent hinterland connections, railway-company METRANS and well-connected intermodal hubs in Central and Eastern Europe.”

Through MSC’s subsidiary Terminal Investments, the company already operates 70 terminals across the world, including terminals in Antwerp, Singapore and Rotterdam.

MSC CEO Søren Toft said MSC and the City of Hamburg have had a close bond for decades.

“We are excited to build on this long-standing partnership today by integrating the City of Hamburg and Germany even closer into our global ocean freight network and diversified intermodal footprint across Europe,” he said.

“This deal not only expands MSC’s global reach, but also unlocks the trade potential for the City of Hamburg and Germany. As a family-owned company, we are fully accountable to our employees, customers and partners. We employ a long-term view and this partnership is an exciting step for MSC to grow its long-term presence in Hamburg and Germany.”

First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg Dr Peter Tschentscher said the partnership would be a milestone in the development of the port.

“It reflects MSC’s strong commitment to the Port of Hamburg, is in line with the Senate’s strategic port policy goals and can give our entire maritime economy the boost it needs in difficult times,” he said.

City of Hamburg Senator of Economy Dr Melanie Leonhard said the Port of Hamburg is one of Europe’s largest industrial sites.

“By leveraging MSC’s expertise in maritime logistics, we aim to drive forward the digitalisation and the transformation of logistics in the Port of Hamburg, ensuring prosperity and job security,” she said.

“I am convinced that the Mediterranean Shipping Company is a most reliable and trustworthy partner for the development we envisage.”