KIA Lazaro CardenasAmports de Mexico will have to pull out of the handling of finished vehicles at the Pacific port of Lázaro Cárdenas, following the failure of its legal case against SSA Mexico.

As reported in May, SSA México, a subsidiary of port terminal group Carrix, finally signed a concession to operate the Terminal Especializada de Automóviles (TEA) car terminal in the Mexican port. The move marked the end of a lengthy legal dispute running since the company was originally awarded the contract in 2012.

Amports de México had asked the port authority (API) for some legal guarantees in respect of its own position at Lázaro Cárdenas, to support new investment it wishes to make to raise its operational efficiency there. Now, however, as part of the new concession agreement, Amports will not be allowed to renew its own operating licence, according to Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa, coordinator general ports and merchant marine coordinator of Mexico's Transport and Communications Ministry.

He said Amports had been able to continue operations at Lázaro Cárdenas since SSA Mexico signed its original contract because of legal problems associated with the original award, which lasted almost four years. These were resolved in December.

Amports will now have to pull out of the stockyard areas in which it currently operates and sell these to SSA Mexico.

Ruiz de Teresa pointed out that three companies had originally bid for the TEA concession – the Pasha Group, Amports and SSA. SSA was designated the winner based on its higher pledge of direct investment, which amounted to of $6.34m, and a minimum of $660,000 a year of fixed compensation, plus $3 per vehicle (Amports had offered just $1 per vehicle).

The judge overseeing the case against SSA had ruled that the Amports contract not be renewed, although the company is thought to be seeking financial compensation as a result.

SSA Mexico is now able to go ahead with its agreed $50m investment in the port, which the Minister said would enable Mexico to cement its place as the world's second leading finished vehicles export nation.