October 18, 2019 / 8:59 AM / a month ago

Belgium's Antwerp and Zeebrugge ports start talks for possible merger

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe’s second busiest port Antwerp and nearby Zeebrugge have begun talks on a possible merger after nearly two years of exploratory discussions and a study into how the two could work together more.

The two Belgian ports said in a joint statement on Friday that the talks on the possible merger of their operations could take a further two years.

“The report of Deloitte and Laga states that the current cooperation between the two ports has little impact because of the existing competition, limited scope and low engagement,” the ports’ statement said.

The report had concluded that more far-reaching cooperation would enable the ports to respond between to future challenges, such as digitalization and a transition to more green forms of energy.

Antwerp is Europe’s second largest port, handling 235 million tonnes of goods per year. Zeebrugge is a specialist in roll-on/roll-off transport, such as for automobiles, handling an annual 40 million tonnes of goods.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Marine Strauss

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