Ports & Terminals

Mississippi Port Signs Letter Of Intent With Turkish Terminal Operator

The Mississippi State Port Authority, the state agency that oversees the daily operations of the Port of Gulfport, announced April 9 it has signed a letter of intent with YilPort Holding A.S., a subsidiary of Yildirim Holding A.S., aimed at the company eventually becoming a major terminal operator at the port.

The letter allows for due diligence and negotiations to proceed between the two parties.

The Port of Gulfport is nearing completion of a $570 million restoration project, and YilPort, under the agreement, would invest in additional facilities and equipment upgrades.

“The company’s interests are well diversified and could bring new vision and targeted investments to the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” the Mississippi State Port Authority said in its announcement of the letter of intent.

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“As we continue discussions with YilPort, the Port of Gulfport has a unique opportunity to evaluate a private-public partnership that could lead to a significant investment in additional infrastructure and provide both parties with increased global coverage,” Port of Gulfport Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Daniels said. “Our central location will allow YilPort to further expand international trade lanes from Gulfport and increase cargo throughput.”

YilPort would prove a strategic partner for the Port of Gulfport. The global terminal operator already has operations in Latin America. YilPort’s parent company, Yildirim Holding, has operations in 49 countries on four continents around the world. Yildirim Holding also owns a quarter stake in CMA CGM Group, the world’s No. 3 container shipping company.

“Since we believe that we have very good know-how, with the expertise in multipurpose port operations globally, we are committed to the Mississippi State Port Authority to upgrade and improve terminal productivity and services due to the lack of investments in many U.S. ports,” said Robert Yuksel Yildirim, chairman of YilPort Holding. “We will be applying state-of-the-art port technologies at Gulfport in order to make it the most competitive in the region. We see a great potential to feed volume, particularly refrigerated goods, to Gulfport from Yilport terminals in Ecuador, Peru and Latin America to reach the USA Midwest.”

With its roots going back only to 2004, YilPort Holding has grown swiftly into the 15th largest terminal operator in the world, according to Drewry’s 2016 ranking. YilPort is in the midst of developing the Puerto Bolivar terminal in Machala, Ecuador, which when complete will have an annual container handling capacity of 2.5 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units).

The announcement from the Mississippi State Port Authority comes less than two years after Chiquita announced its return to Gulfport and just months after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its record of decision for the Port of Gulfport Expansion Project, which will allow for a 282-acre expansion at the port.

Besides the favorable report from the Corps, the Port of Gulfport ended 2017 with significant increases in traffic and cargo. In 2017, the Port of Gulfport handled 11,101 railcars (a 45 percent increase over 2016), 329 deep draft vessels (a 31 percent increase), 216,683 TEUs-worth of containers (a 31 percent increase), and more than 2.5 million tons of cargo (a 28 percent increase).

For more information on the Mississippi State Port Authority, visit www.shipmspa.com.