Photo: Port of Zeebrugge
The decision is based on the findings of a complementarity and robustness study carried out by the consultancy firms Deloitte and Laga
The research concluded that current collaborations have limited impact because of the traditional competition between the two ports, a scope that's too limited, and a lack of commitment. The report also stated that Antwerp and Zeebrugge are highly complementary and face the same challenges.
According to the report, "(…) clients of both ports are also in favor of increased collaboration between Antwerp and Zeebrugge. In short, cooperation can yield strong win-win results for both ports, provided that there is a far-reaching integration between the two port authorities. As a result, a holding company and merger were the only management models retained in the governance analysis."
Both port authorities are willing to formally start negotiations in view of a possible (phased) merger. The entire process is expected to take around two years.