It was in 2019 that the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge first announced their plans to merge. A study carried out by Deloitte and Laga found that both ports would befit from a merger. The new merged port company hopes to be better equipped to take on new challenges such as digitalisation and the transition to renewable energy sources.
The boards of both ports have merged. The current CEO of the port of Antwerp Jacques Vandermeiren will remain CEO of the newly merged port company. The Antwerp City Alderman responsible for the Port of Antwerp Annick De Ridder (nationalist) will be the newly merged port’s new Chair and the current Chair of the Port of Zeebrugge, the Mayor of Bruges Dirk De fauw (Christian democrat), will be the new port’s Deputy Chair.
The newly merged port strengthens its position as Europe’s second biggest port (after Rotterdam). Antwerp boasts a cluster of petrochemical companies at and around the port, while Zeebrugge is the world’s largest port for the shipment and re-shipment of cars. Zeebrugge is also specialised in LNG (liquid natural gas). While a large portion of Antwerp’s business is with China and the United States, much of Zeebrugge’s trade comes from shipments to and from the UK and Russia.