Bollore-Led Bid for Abidjan Terminal Broke Law: Minister

Bollore SA’s winning proposal to build a second container terminal at the port of Abidjan in Ivory Coast violates the nation’s competition law, the country’s minister of commerce said late yesterday.

Bollore’s unit Bollore Africa Logistics CI and partners should not have been allowed to participate because the French company already runs the port’s first terminal, Commerce Minister Jean-Louis Billon told reporters in Abidjan, the commercial capital. Bouygues SA and A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S’s APM Terminals partnered with Bollore for the project.

The Bollore-led project would create a monopoly, Billon said. Abidjan is the main harbor for Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, and also serves landlocked neighbors Burkina Faso and Mali.

Dalila Beritane, head of communications for Bollore Africa Logistics, declined to comment when called on her mobile-phone today. Bollore made the “best offer” in a “transparent and rigorous” process, the company said in an e-mailed statement last week.

Bollore, which is based in the French city of Puteaux, beat bids from groups led by Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. SA and Marseille-based CMA CGM SA.

The French company offered 122 million euros ($162 million) for the concession and 14 million euros in annual operating fees, the company said. The plan is to build the terminal in a partnership with the government at a cost of about 450 million euros, it said.

Ivory Coast’s Public Procurement Regulatory Authority last month dismissed an appeal by the CMA CGM group to annul the tender, saying the request was unfounded.

Separately, The West African Economic and Monetary Union’s competition department accepted a complaint against the bid and will decide whether to investigate, Director Amadou Dieng said last week. The complaint was submitted to the body by Movis Côte d’Ivoire and NCT NEcotrans, part of the CMA CGM group.