BUSINESS

Cosco to clinch majority stake in Piraeus port ahead of further investment

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Shipping, Economy

Chinese giant Cosco is due to take on a majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) on Wednesday concluding a process that began more than four years ago.

Representatives from Cosco, OLP and Greece’s privatization fund, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED), are due to mark the occasion by sounding the opening bell for today’s trading session on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Cosco is due to pay 280.5 million euros to TAIPED to secure a 51 percent stake in OLP. It will also deposit another 88 million euros in an escrow account for another 16 percent in the company. The extra shares will be transferred when Cosco completes the investment it has committed to as part of the deal.

The firm has committed to investing almost 300 million euros in the port by 2020 before it can increase its holding in OLP. The majority of the amount in question is due to be spent on improving the infrastructure for cruise ships and passengers. The new owners also want to spend 55 million on upgrading the ship repairing facilities at the port.

The Chinese firm indicated in July, when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited China, that it would invest 650 million euros, rather than the 350 million originally agreed, in Piraeus.

TAIPED will continue to own 23 percent of the port authority until the Chinese giant obtains the 16 percent share that has been set aside.

The new executive board is due to convene in the coming days. The new 11-member board is expected to be made up of seven Chinese and three Greeks. The mayor of Piraeus will retain his position on the board. The current chairman and vice chairman are also expected to remain.

It is expected that Cosco chairman Wan Min will be appointed chief executive officer (CEO), while the man who currently heads the Chinese firm’s subsidiary at the Piraeus container terminal, Captain Fu Cheng Qiu, will be made vice president and managing director.

Wednesday's transaction was cleared by the Greek Parliament on June 30, when 223 MPs voted in favor of the agreement that will see Cosco take over a majority stake in OLP and responsibility for the running of the port.

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