ECONOMY

Cosco insists it still wants a controlling stake in OLP

The government’s announcement that it had canceled the port of Piraeus’s privatization has generated plenty of noise behind the scenes, as Cosco’s interest in expanding its activity in the port remains strong while Denmark’s APM Terminals is trying to prevent any negative developments.

The two firms were believed to be the main suitors for the 67.7 percent stake in Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), which privatization fund TAIPED had planned to sell off.

The word on the market is that Chinese shipping giant Cosco is satisfied enough with the recent expansion of its concession contract for Terminals II and III, which has not been disputed by the SYRIZA-led government. However Cosco sources have told Kathimerini that these rumors suggesting the Chinese company is not interested in the OLP stake are not true, and question why people may have spread such rumors. This comes in the wake of official statements from Beijing last week expressing concern regarding obstacles to Chinese interests in Greece.

Meanwhile sources from London cite communications with APM Terminals saying that the Maersk subsidiary is worried that OLP may be conceded to Chinese management through a bilateral state agreement.

The government has not yet expressed its intention as to how it will proceed with the utilization of the port of Piraeus, as it has only ruled out the sale of the stake. Now Cosco sources say it wishes to continue to invest in Greece through “win-win” agreements of mutual benefit, and that it has “already drafted an investment strategy – in cooperation with a team of experts – for the vertical development of every OLP business unit that will lead to the immediate utilization of investments.”

A Cosco source told Kathimerini that “there is both the will for an investment on win-win terms and an investment plan for immediate implementation with guaranteed funding, and a vision for Piraeus to become what it deserves to be: the top port in the Mediterranean and one of the biggest in Europe. Piraeus can only obtain the added value that will multiply the potential of all its activities if all activities (cruise ship hosting, coastal shipping, car terminals and ship repair) operate at the same pace as the growth of the Cosco container terminal.”