Cosco Pacific is set to boost capacity at its container terminals in Piraeus, Greece, amid reports that the company plans to bid for a majority stake in Greece’s largest port.
The Hong Kong-based terminal operator is reported to have agreed to terms with the Athens government to invest around €225 million (about US$297 million) to build a fourth pier as part of a plan to expand Piraeus’s transshipment capacity.
Cosco Pacific is the major container handler in Piraeus, operating two of its three piers under a 35-year management concession for which it paid around $5 billion in 2009. Traffic in the first half of the year rose to 1.2 million 20-foot-equivalent units from 1.05 million TEUs a year ago and 484,000 TEUs in the same period in 2011. Current annual capacity is 2.6 million TEUs.
The firm is seen as a frontrunner to acquire a majority stake in Piraeus following reports that the Greek government has decided to fast track the long-stalled privatization of the country’s leading ports. The government, which has a 74 percent stake in the Piraeus Port Authority, also plans to privatize the country’s second port, Thessaloniki, as part of a program of state assets sales under the terms of a bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.