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How German logistics company HHLA acquired Estonia’s biggest terminal operator

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) bought Estonian container terminal operator Transiidikeskuse AS from businessman Anatoli Kanajev. The contract was signed in March 2018 and a smooth transition process, which was supported by the previous owner, was completed in only 6 months.

‘I’m glad to hand over responsibility for Transiidikeskuse AS to HHLA. HHLA has extensive experience and expertise as a container terminal operator. This will ensure that Transiidikeskuse AS is successful in the future, and it will also see sustainable development,’ said Anatoli Kanajev, who will remain on the supervisory board of the company in the future.

There were many aspects that made HHLA’s decision to come to Estonia easy: the political climate in Estonia is positive – the relationships with key authorities are very good, uncomplicated and forward-looking. Another aspect is the ease of doing business – there is little bureaucracy and the taxation system is simple and advantageous. ‘One of HHLA’s targets is to grow internationally. Estonia is one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe and a pioneer when it comes to digitalisation. We are therefore pleased to integrate Transiidikeskuse AS, already a profitable and high-performing company, into the HHLA family,’ CEO of HHLA, Angela Titzrath said.

A gateway to the future

HHLA aims to be a gateway to the future by offering its customers the best way to transport their goods safely, quickly and efficiently. HHLA Group is one of the leading port logistics providers in Europe, using state-of-the-art handling technology, innovative IT systems and a high level of automation, as well as providing a very dense rail network linking major European ports to CEE, operating highly-efficient shuttle trains and inland terminals, and connecting transport and data streams. Their vision is to become a hub of logistical and digital innovation during the new Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

‘The acquisition enables us to enter a promising regional market that offers growth potential as a result of its geographic position and its link to the ‘New Silk Road’. As Hanseatic cities, Hamburg and Tallinn share a long history, to which HHLA is now adding a new chapter,’ commented Titzrath.

According to Titzrath, HHLA chose Transiidikeskuse AS because it had solid fundamentals and it fit with the HHLA strategy. Transiidikeskuse AS has a strong base in Estonia as the market leader in container handling with a strong presence in bulk activities. At the same time, its size and position allow Transiidikeskuse AS to grow on a solid basis and profit from HHLA’s know-how and strengths.

Muuga, which is just a few kilometres out of Tallinn, is Estonia’s main commercial port and an important freight handling point in the Baltic region. The container terminal at the port of Muuga is currently experiencing high utilisation of its capacity of around 300 000 twenty-foot equivalent units (also called TEU, a measure for container capacity), which can be increased to approximately 800 000. Contrary to many other neighbouring ports, there is the possibility to develop logistical activities in the vicinity and turn it into a multimodal hub due to its ideal connection between container and bulk shipping, Ro/Ro services, and railways (both Russian and European gauge). Close geographic proximity to the markets in the Baltics, Scandinavia, Russia and CIS countries helps to create a logistical platform.

Aiming to be logistically and digitally innovative

HHLA is in the process of implementing its new strategy, focused on building logistically and digitally innovative hubs. The acquisition of Transiidikeskuse AS in Estonia was the first step abroad to implement this strategy.

‘These types of strategic investments are very welcome in Estonia. I´m sure that HHLA will give a significant boost to the development of trade and the growth of container traffic in the region. The port of Muuga has the potential to become one of the hubs as a logistical centre between the east, the west and the north. And this is just the beginning: the new ‘Silk Road’ and the potential of Rail Baltica are key components for future cooperation. In addition, Estonia’s expertise in digitalisation in all aspects, in line with the aspirations of HHLA, provides a good opportunity to ´test´ new ideas in a digitally-minded and positive environment prior to being implemented in other terminals.

I am glad to see this synergy between Hamburg and Tallinn with regard to our historical, cultural and economic connections. It is clear that we share the same core values when doing business,’ said Riina Leminsky, Director of Business Development in Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the Estonian Investment Agency.

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