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DFDS Update - Ferry Network Expands to Strait of Gibraltar

DFDS has today entered into an agreement to acquire FRS Iberia/Maroc, a division of the German short-sea ferry company FRS GmbH & Co. KG. FRS Iberia/Maroc operates three short-sea ferry routes across the Strait of Gibraltar connecting Spain and Morocco.

“We are excited to expand our network to one of Europe’s significant ferry markets that we expect will continue to show high growth underpinned by the ongoing nearshoring of supply chains to Europe”, says Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS.

“This is a great opportunity to scale DFDS’ business model. We will apply our capabilities and experience, not least from the Channel short-sea market, to further develop the Strait of Gibraltar ferry infrastructure while supporting regional tourism and trade”, says Mathieu Girardin, Head of DFDS’ Ferry Division and EVP.

“FRS Iberia/Maroc has achieved great success for more than two decades. We are pleased to have found a partner in DFDS who will run the company in a proven manner to ensure its continued growth and take good care of our employees”, says Götz Becker, CEO FRS Group.

Strategic fit

The acquisition is aligned with DFDS’ strategy to develop and expand the transport network focused on moving goods in trailers by ferry, road & rail as well as moving passengers.

The acquisition expands DFDS’ Mediterranean route network that today connects Europe with Türkiye and Tunisia, respectively. The region’s organic market growth is expected to continue to exceed growth levels in northern Europe underpinned by nearshoring of manufacturing supply chains closer to end markets in Europe.

The integration of FRS Iberia/Maroc is expected to bring operating benefits, including tonnage allocation and benefits from application of business model insights from existing freight ferry routes and the combined freight and passenger Channel short-sea routes.

About FRS Iberia/Maroc

FRS Iberia/Maroc operates three short-sea ferry routes across the Strait of Gibraltar: Algeciras-Tanger Med, Algeciras-Ceuta, and Tarifa-Tanger Ville. In 2023, a total of 2.3m freight lane metres, 1.9m passengers, and 370k cars are expected to be transported. Seven vessels with an average age of 23 years are deployed on the routes. The company is headquartered in Tarifa in Spain and started operations in 2000.

The largest route Algeciras-Tanger Med connects the largest industrial ports of Spain and Morocco. Revenue is equally split between freight and passengers. The route deploys two owned combined freight and passenger ferries (ro-pax) and one chartered/shared freight ferry (ro-ro). The route crossing time is 90 min.

Freight customers comprise both regional and pan-European freight forwarders and hauliers. Key Moroccan industry export sectors are automotive, textile, and fruit/vegetables.

The total Strait of Gibraltar freight market is expected in 2023 to grow to around 475k units (trucks and trailers). The total passenger market is expected to increase to around 6m passengers while the number of cars is expected to reach 1.2m. FRS Iberia’s market share is 28-30% depending on segment. All three segments are expected to grow 5-10% annually for the next three years.


20 September 2023

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