GCT Global Container Terminals Inc, a North American operator of four marine container terminals which could be valued at more than $4 billion, including debt, has hired investment banks to review its options, people familiar with the matter said.
The move comes as container port traffic in North America, which had been strong in the last couple of years, tapers off amid weaker global economic demand and a strong U.S. dollar that have contributed to over capacity and depressed freight rates.
Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP), the owner of GCT, has asked Macquarie Group Ltd and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce to examine several potential transactions involving the company, including the sale of a significant equity stake, the people said.
OTPP, which has owned GCT for a decade, is in the preliminary stages of its deliberations, and there is no certainty that any deal will occur, the people added.
The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. GCT, OTPP and Macquarie declined to comment, while Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
GCT operates four container terminals: GCT Bayonne in the Upper New York Bay in Jersey City, New Jersey, GCT New York in New York harbor, and GCT Deltaport and GCT Vanterm in Port Metro Vancouver.
OTPP acquired the terminals from Orient Overseas International Ltd of Hong Kong in 2007 for $2.4 billion. As Canada's largest single-profession pension plan, which administers the pensions of the province of Ontario's 316,000 active and retired teachers, OTPP has a long investment horizon, and so is under no pressure to sell GCT.
Another port operator, Ports America, owned by private equity fund Highstar III, is also exploring a sale that could value it at as much as $2.5 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
A Ports America representative declined to comment. Bloomberg News first reported the sale process for Ports America.
(Reporting by Mike Stone and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)