The port of Livorno wagers on private investors for its relaunch. At the end of the summer, the Port of Livorno Authority, the public office that controls the Tuscan port, will begin its search for a stockholding partner by initiating a tender whose objective is ceding a considerable portion of the capital. A decisive move to attract attention to a port that needs strategies and resources, after a very difficult year as pertains to the cruise activity.

If, in fact, many of the 2013 indicators are positive – one reads in the report on the Authority’s management – cruise ship traffic (which had surpassed 1 million units in 2012) dropped by 29% to 736,000 units, moving against the trends of other Italian ports: the contraction was determined by the decision of some owners (such as Royal Caribbean, Costa Crociere and MSC) to move to La Spezia due to Livorno’s difficulties in guaranteeing docking at a pier dedicated exclusively to cruise ships. The predictions for this year substantially confirm last year’s levels. The port’s other significant data, in contrast, showed an increase in 2013: +3.4% year per year on the number of ships that arrived, +2% for the port’s total handling in tons.

The will to imprint a positive turning point on the cruise ship traffic, with the important impacts that it generates for local economy, is at the base of the evaluations regarding the entry of new investors. For this reason, the Port Authority has entrusted itself to the KPMG advisors, who have conducted an analysis of cruise ship market, both internationally and in Italy. The advisor’s counsel is to find an investor who is interested in relieving an absolute majority of Porto 2000, the company that manages the port’s maritime station, and of extending the concession contracts of port areas beyond the current expiration in 2019. “This prospective – states the KPMG analysis – would have the advantage of offering a clear governance and a notable [degree] of decisional leverage to the big players; and it would favor the possibility of attracting industrial investments and would mitigate the uncertainty of an approach.”

Who could make shore on Livorno’s coastline? Big national industrial operators or private equity funds. “It is preferable – the analysis indicates – that the subjects who wish to enter company’s composition have a proven entrepreneurial ability in the cruise ship sector and documented financial solidity.” Porto 2000’s future must, indeed, be characterized by “committed investments” that would justify the extension of the current lease. 

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