Cosco Pacific Ltd, Asia's third-largest container terminal operator, was named the provisional winner of a bid to run the container operations at the port of Piraeus, Greece's largest. Cosco Pacific's bid, which Piraeus values at as much as 4.3 billion euros ($6.6 billion) over the 35 years of the concession, was chosen by the board yesterday, Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) said. «The board of directors decided that Cosco is the provisional winner of the tender to upgrade OLP's Pier 2 and Pier 3,» the company said in a bourse filing. The amount will be paid over the duration of the contract, and Cosco will invest a further 620 million euros in upgrades. Cosco will pay an initial amount of 50 million euros to OLP, a further 591 million euros in rent over the 35-year period, and a guaranteed amount of at least 2.7 billion euros from future earnings, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis told reporters. «Turnover at the port will increase substantially and boost profits for companies using the port and its facilities,» Voulgarakis said. «It will provide for the implementation of certain projects on the port's infrastructure and complement the work of ferry boats by offering the faster and cheaper transport of passengers and trucks, especially during the winter months.» Cosco's offer bettered the 4.06-billion-euro bid made by Hutchison Port Holdings, a unit of port operator Hutchison Whampoa, which had said it would invest a further 354 million euros in upgrades. Greece, with two of the largest ports in the eastern Mediterranean, launched tenders for the Piraeus and the Thessaloniki harbors, in an effort to turn them into regional hubs and boost cargo business. OLP's shares slipped 0.66 percent yesterday to end the session at 24.42 euros on the Athens bourse. The company, which is 74 percent state-owned, has a market value of 627 million euros. Meanwhile, the Municipality of Piraeus called off protest action it had planned for today over financial demands after Mayor Panayiotis Fassoulas met with Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis yesterday. The two agreed on measures that will provide the municipality with financial breaks.