Vancouver's GCT Terminals agrees to sell U.S. assets in New York, New Jersey

GCT Vanterm |Chung Chow

Vancouver’s GCT Global Container Terminals Inc. will sell its American terminal assets to a French conglomerate for an undisclosed sum, the companies announced.

The deal, announced Tuesday, will involve a change in ownership for GCT’s two U.S. terminals, GCT New York on Staten Island and GCT Bayonne in Bayonne, New Jersey, from the Vancouver firm to French-based CMA CGM Group.

GCT officials also confirmed that GCT will retain its Canadian terminals, both of which are in the Port of Vancouver: GCT Deltaport and GCT Vanterm.

"There is no impact on Canadian operations, and GCT is 100 per cent focused on GCT Canada’s success and maintaining the highest service levels through GCT Vanterm and GCT Deltaport," the company said in a written statement. "As an integral part of the Vancouver Gateway, GCT Canada will continue to proudly invest in Canada, as we have over the past 12 years with over $650 million in staged terminal upgrades and through the ongoing advancement of strategic projects at both of our terminals, including the GCT Deltaport Berth 4 Expansion Project."

The company established its East Coast North America operations with GCT Bayonne in 1972 and added GCT New York in 1995.

The terms of the deal were not released, and GCT officials declined to comment on its specifics. The deal is still subject to regulatory approvals, and no closing date was announced.

GCT has been embroiled in a court battle with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) – which runs the Port of Vancouver – over plans to expand GCT Deltaport, its Roberts Bank container terminal. The VFPA is pushing ahead with its multibillion-dollar Terminal 2 expansion, which would have a new operator to compete with GCT, while GCT has accused the port of a conflict of interest in deferring the decision on GCT’s bid to expand Deltaport with an additional berth.

In July, federal judge Peter George Pamel dismissed GCT’s claims in a decision that ruled in favour of the VFPA. GCT has since filed an appeal of the decision on Sept. 30 with the Supreme Court of Canada.

In the meantime, the port authority’s leadership – including president and CEO Robin Silvester – has been increasingly vocal in its confidence that the federal government will approve Terminal 2 in the coming months. GCT has not indicated whether its efforts to expand Deltaport will continue if Terminal 2 – with a cost of potentially more than $2 billion – receives Ottawa’s go-ahead.

The Vancouver-based terminal operator also had legal wranglings involving GCT New York in 2020, when shipping giant Maersk switched vessel services to a terminal owned by its APM Terminals subsidiary in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The move triggered a lawsuit from GCT; the sides eventually reached a settlement to dismiss the case.

CMA CGM chairman/CEO Rodolphe Saade said in a statement that the deal to buy GCT's East Coast terminals consolidates the company’s position in the United States. CMA CGM bought a Port of Los Angeles container terminal in 2021 for US$2 billion.

The CMA CGM statement said GCT New York and GCT Bayonne have a combined capacity of two million TEUs annually and can be expanded to almost double that capacity.