COSCO buys stake in big Greek port
Updated: 2016-04-12 08:59
By Maria Petrakis and Lyu Chang(China Daily)
Agreement paves way for boosted ties and increased business between Europe, Asia
China's largest shipping company COSCO closed the deal to buy a majority stake in the Greece's biggest harbor, a move that would give the shipper control over one of the country's key thoroughfares into Europe.
The deal, signed on Friday between COSCO Shipping Corporation Ltd, a company merged between China Ocean Shipping Group Co and China Shipping Group Co, and Greece's state asset sales fund, will see a total payment of 368.5 million euros ($420 million) for a 67 percent stake, but it still needs final approval from the Greek government.
The deal, also the first overseas investment after the combination, was followed by a slight surge in shares of China COSCO Holdings Co, a COSCO subsidiary, that have witnessed 2.13 percent increase to 6.24 yuan ($0.96) on Monday.
Zhou Mi, a senior researcher fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said that the move would not only boost regional connectivity and cooperation between China and Europe, but also provide better services to Chinese companies.
"After gaining the holding stake in the port, I think that will also help COSCO design its customized service and utilize the management system in terms of container, routes and timetable to better serve the Chinese clients," he said.
Zhou said the port, located in the Mediterranean Sea basin which links East Central Europe and Western Europe, will be of strategic importance for China, the world's second-largest economy, and help boost ties and business between the two regions.
Chinese investment in Piraeus is seen as a key plank of the Belt and Road Initiative, which envisages creating the 21st century land and maritime equivalent of the Silk Road.
Premier Li Keqiang, on a visit to Greece in June 2014, said that Piraeus could be China's gateway to Europe.
Piraeus Port is among the top 10 container ports in Europe. It has more than 1,500 employees and provides various services to more than 24,000 ships every year, earlier reports said.
COSCO pledged to make good on promises to attract more investment to the port and the country.