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ELIZABETH, NJ-Rreef Infrastructure has agreed to buy Berkeley Heights-based Maher Terminals Inc., which is said to be the country’s last privately owned marine terminal operator. According to published reports, the New York-based subsidiary of Deutsche Asset Management will take over ownership of the company’s 600-acre port operations at Port Elizabeth, as well as other marine terminal facilities in North America.

“We believe Maher Terminals represents the best assets combined with the very best management team in the industry,” says David Kerr, managing director and portfolio manager with Rreef, in a statement.

The deal, finalized yesterday, calls for the company to maintain the Maher name. Also brothers Brian and Basil Maher, sons of the company’s founder, will remain in place in the company’s top management positions. The sale price was not released, and officials of Rreef and Maher could not be reached for comment prior to deadline.

In a release, CEO Brian Maher says, “As the environment changes in the port industry, Rreef provides Maher increased ability to compete on a global level. Their vision of growth and value creation will lead us in the future as we grow our existing terminal businesses and compete for additional capacity in the North American market.”

The deal follows Maher’s announcement, about 18 months ago, that it was looking for a financial partner, a move that came just after the company had spent a reported $450 million to renovate and upgrade its main terminal at Port Elizabeth. The renovation was a response to a cargo flow that had grown to more than 1.2 million containers a year, representing nearly half of the cargo moving through the port. “We are looking for a strategic partner who can help us grow,” Brian Maher said in a prepared statement at the time.

The sale still faces multiple approvals before it can be finalized. The US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment has to approve it, related to security issues. The Port Authority of NY/NJ, which owns the land, must also okay the deal.

The deal also includes the Port of Prince Rupert in Prince Rupert, Canada, which Maher terminals is currently constructing and expects to complete this fall.Deutsche Bank was the financial advisor for Rreef, and Greenhill & Co. LLC advised Maher Terminals.

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