PARIS (Reuters) – Shipping group CMA CGM expects its first-quarter profit decline to continue through 2023, due to an uncertain economy and an influx new vessels that increase competition, after a record in 2022.

The Marseille-based company, privately controlled by the founding Saadé family, on Friday reported net profit of $2 billion (1.82 billion euros) in the first quarter, up from $7.2 billion. dollars the previous year.

It said in a statement that it expects the first quarter to be the most profitable of 2023. The CMA CGM group is among the shipping companies that recorded record profit last year, after the COVID-19 pandemic 19 sparked a rush on shipping. The group used this profit for acquisitions, in order to develop its logistics activities and enter the media sector.

In a separate announcement made on Friday, CMA CGM announced a project to acquire La Tribune, an online economic news media.

Earlier this month, CMA CGM agreed to take over the logistics activities of the Bolloré group for a value of 4.65 billion euros, which will be its biggest operation ever if it is completed.

“Generally speaking, the group’s first priority for the coming period will be the integration of all of these acquisitions,” chief financial officer Ramon Fernandez told a press conference.

“The group has significant financial leeway, I remind you of the 25 billion in resources available at the end of March.” An expected 8% increase in global shipping capacity this year, compared to projected global trade growth of just 1.5%, would keep pressure on freight rates, he added.

CMA CGM expects a recovery in maritime volumes after a 5% year-on-year decline in the first quarter, and growth in volumes over the full year, said Ramon Fernandez. The chief financial officer joined the company this year after leaving the telecommunications group Orange.

The group’s recently created air cargo division had a slow start to the year as demand weakened after a surge during the pandemic. The group intends to use its joint venture with Air France-KLM and the proposed takeover of Bolloré Logistics to revive its activity, said Ramon Fernandez.

(Report Gus Trompiz, Gaëlle Sheehan, edited by Tangi Salaün)

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