Sri Lankan conglomerate Aitken Spence agreed to sell its 30 percent stake in the Colombo International Container Terminals to China Merchants Holdings, the majority stakeholder in the $500 million project.
Aitken in a statement to the Colombo Stock Exchange said local authorities approved the deal but did not disclose financial details.
“We are now finalizing the formalities for transfer of our shareholding to China Merchants Holdings,” the company said.
Hong Kong-based CMHI currently owns 55 percent of the new terminal, which will increase to 85 percent following the transaction, with state-owned Sri Lanka Ports Authority controlling the remaining 15 percent.
The joint venture agreement for the project, part of the proposed Colombo South Harbor Hub, was signed in August last year, and the developers launched construction in December. CICT, on a 35-year concession, is expected to offer nearly 4,000 feet of container berth, a 59-foot draft and about 150 acres of yard space.
The project has been planned for construction over five years with the first phase scheduled for completion in 2014, offering an estimated annual capacity of 2.4 million 20-foot equivalent units. The planned 12-berth South Harbor Hub will eventually have three terminals, each with a quay length of 3,937 feet, and bids for the next two phases, comprising eastern and western terminals, will be invited at a later stage.
Colombo Port, which largely depends on transshipment cargo from India, has three terminals; state-owned Jaya Container Terminal and Unity Container Terminal, as well as DP World’s South Asia Gateway Terminal, with a combined capacity of 4.5 million TEUs. Colombo handled 3.52 million TEUs from January through October, up 2 percent from 3.45 million TEUs during the same period in 2010.