APM moves on ports

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ownership of APM Terminals Virginia would transfer from APM to the state under a proposal put forward by the shipping giant.

APM Terminals would give the state ownership of its Portsmouth container terminal, where many Suffolk residents work, under an unsolicited bid from the Maersk subsidiary to operate all of Virginia’s ports.

State Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton confirmed in a press release late Wednesday that the Virginia Port Authority and the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships are evaluating a proposal worth approximately $3.2 to $3.9 billion to the state.

APM proposes a 48-year contract to operate Virginia’s ports in return for a fixed monthly payment to the state and variable monthly payments based on operating revenues, the release states.

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Under the deal, APM would fund capital improvements at the terminals, pay state and local taxes, and transfer ownership of APM Terminals Virginia to the state.

“We are excited about this proposed next step in our relationship with the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia Port Authority,” APM Terminals Americas Region President Eric Sisco stated in a separate press release.

He further stated that APM’s “long and substantial” commitment to Hampton Roads has included a $540 million outlay to build the Portsmouth facility, “one of the largest private investments ever made in the Commonwealth.”

“Our proposal provides for world-class port operations and the lowest-cost, best long-term solution for the Commonwealth’s goal to make Hampton Roads the premier port facility now and in the future.”

According to APM’s proposal, lodged with the state Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships, the capital investment component would involve developing the next phase of APM Terminals Virginia, increasing capacity by an estimated 1.2 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), more than 60 percent of current Port of Virginia total throughput.

The terminal currently has eight post-Panamax STS cranes, 30 RMG cranes, more than 20 shuttle carriers, 26 truck lanes and a estimated capacity of about 1.44 million TEUs, the proposal states.

Relieving the state of terminal expansion costs would allow the direction of state funds to other “transportation-related infrastructure projects,” the proposal states.

In another press release, Virginia Port Authority Executive Director Jerry Bridges stressed it would be business as usual, despite APM’s bid.

“As this evaluation goes forward, we’ll continue to focus on customer service, delivery of service and our commitment to making Virginia the leading port on the U.S. East Coast,” Bridges stated.

He also stated that Virginia International Terminals would continue daily management and operation of terminals while the bid is evaluated.

Interested parties have until July 12 to submit alternative proposals, the secretary’s release stated.

Virginia rejected three private proposals to take over the state’s port facilities in 2009. One of those proposals had been presented by CenterPoint Properties, which is building a massive intermodal processing facility alongside Holland Road.