COSCO SHIPPING Ports obtains Zeebrugge controlling stake

COSCO SHIPPING Ports, formerly known as COSCO Pacific, has finalised a deal to obtain a controlling share in container terminal APM Terminals (APMT) Zeebrugge.

With all terms having been met for the $42m acquisition, which was signed on September 11, the subsidiary of China COSCO Holdings Company, which is owned by the Chinese state-owned COSCO Group, now has the controlling stake of the one million teu-capacity terminal in Belgium.

COSCO initially bought a 24% share in the terminal in 2014.

The operator wanted to invest in a port with adequate capacity, good maritime access, high productivity and a beneficial location towards the markets, chief executive of the Port of Zeebrugge Joachim Coens said.

“The link between COSCO SHIPPING Ports and COSCO SHIPPING Lines is definitely an opportunity to increase the container traffic in Zeebrugge,” he commented.

APMT has entered into a share purchase deal to buy stakes in the Zeebrugge terminal owned by Shanghai International Ports Group (SIPG), which is also involved in the Zeebrugge agreement.

SIPG, which is Chinese state-owned, was at COSCO’s side at the negotiating table to buy container shipping and logistics firm Orient Overseas Container Line, and will control nearly 10% of the company when the $6.3bn purchase by COSCO is finalised.

The finalisation of the deal comes in light of an expansion of COSCO SHIPPING Ports’ European portfolio in recent times.

In June, it acquired a 51% stake in Spanish terminal operator Noatum Port Holdings for $228m, while last year, COSCO Shipping agreed to pay $410m for a controlling share in Greece’s Port of Piraeus, as well as making a deal with the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) and SIPG to strengthen the role of the port as a China-Europe cargo handling hub.

COSCO SHIPPING Ports’ other recent foreign acquisitions include a 35% stake in the Euromax Terminal in Rotterdam, the Khalifa Port Container Terminal 2 in Abu Dhabi and the reefer terminal and Vado Container Terminal in Italy.

China is growing its presence at key points along the maritime part of the Belt and Road route between Asia and Europe, with its two biggest port operators, COSCO SHIPPING Ports and China Merchants Port Holdings, holding a number of different stakes.

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