OOCL parent eyes Shanghai port project

OOCL parent eyes Shanghai port project

The head of Orient Overseas International Ltd., parent of Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd., is suggesting the company will probably bid to invest in the $16 billion Yangshan port project.

"We, like everybody else, would be interested," OOIL chairman Tung Chee Chen told Bloomberg News in an interview. "It would be a very important gateway" to eastern China.

Tung said OOIL and Chinese authorities have "been in touch" and that formal talks could begin next year.

This was confirmed by a spokesman for the Shanghai government.

OOIL likely will compete against PSA Corp. Ltd. of Singapore and Hutchison Port Holdings Ltd. of Hong Kong. PSA Chairman Stephen Lee recently confirmed his firm's interest. "We are quite open to opportunities. If there is any combination of players that might give us some advantage, we would consider it," Lee said.

A new venture backed by Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk and Shanghai International Port Group runs a dock at Shanghai with four berths and capacity of more than 3 million TEUs a year. That could indicate some desire by the Danish group for a bigger China presence.

The deep-water project at Yangshan island, about 20 miles from Shanghai, will open the country's largest port to bigger container vessels without the silting and narrow channels that now congest traffic.

Shanghai handled 11.28 million TEUs in 2003, an increase of 28.5 percent over the previous year.