NEW YORK Jan 7 An infrastructure fund run by
Goldman Sachs has sold its 49 percent stake in the
holding company of SSA Marine, one of the world's largest
privately held port operators, SSA said on Tuesday.
The sale is the bank's latest divestment in the resources
and transportation sector, and follows last year's sale of its
power plant unit, Cogentrix. It is also considering the sale of
its contentious metals warehousing business amid intense
criticism of its role in the raw materials supply chain.
Financial details of the transaction were not released. A
Goldman spokesman declined to comment on the sale.
GS Infrastructure Partners sold its shares in SSA Marine's
ultimate parent company, FRS Capital Corp, to the founding
Smith/Hemingway family, SSA said in a release on its website.
After the sale, Mexican businessman Fernando Chico Pardo took a
49 percent share in the business, they said.
The transaction comes as pressure mounts on Wall Street
banks to get out of physical commodity trading, as well as new
rules limiting direct financial investments.
"We've been fortunate the past seven years to work closely
with one of the world's leading investors in infrastructure and
their fine people but appreciate that, as with all investment
funds representing an array of investors, they approach their
investments with a need to invest, hold and then sell over a
defined time frame," said Jon Hemingway, chairman of Carrix Inc,
the immediate parent company of SSA Marine.
GS Infrastructure bought its stake in mid-2007.
SSA Marine, which is not a commodity trader, is involved in
several large coal export terminals as well as container ports.
It has activities at 210 terminal facilities and rail operations
across the Americas, Asia and South Africa.
Carrix Chief Executive Knud Stubkjaer said that with Pardo's
capital investment the firm was "well positioned to continue
expanding our activities, enhancing existing operations and
adding new terminals, as well as implementing technological
Big banks still reeling from years of criticism after the
financial crisis are also steering clear of controversy.
SSA Marine had been a target of environmental ire over their
role in developing a proposed 48 million ton per year coal
export terminal north at Cherry Point, Washington.
"Goldman Sachs' stepping away from coal exports is yet
another sign from Wall Street that coal export is a losing
investment," Crina Hoyer, executive director of RE Sources for
Sustainable Communities, said in a statement.
Investment banks are also in the process of shedding
commodity and energy trading operations, whose margins are
likely to shrink further under new regulations.
The GS Infrastructure Fund is separate from the bank's J
Aron commodity trading division, which has also made direct
investments in businesses including a Colombian coal mine.