China’s Cosco is expected to make an offer for Greece’s rail network after becoming the sole bidder for the country’s largest port, two people familiar with the matter have said, as the state-owned shipping giant forges ahead with a plan to build a European transshipment hub.
Buying Trainose and Piraeus Port Authority would give Cosco maritime connections to the Suez Canal and rail links to the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe.
Bolstered by its merger with China Shipping Group in December, Cosco’s focus on Greece is about building market share at a time of anguish in a bruised and oversupplied shipping sector, industry sources said.
It also fits with China’s “One Belt, One Road” policy of building a modern Silk Road to boost trade and create an outlet for Chinese industrial powerhouses caught up in the global downturn and slower growth at home.
Cosco was unchallenged in its $400 million offer for a 67 percent stake in Piraeus Port Authority last month and is set to be named the preferred investor.
But it could face competition for the rail network, including from US railroad holding company Watco, one of the individuals said, after Greece relaunched the tender in an effort to drum up more interest.
Trainose has an estimated value of dozens of millions of euros.
“Cosco and Watco are interested in Trainose,” said the source, who declined to be identified.
“There is also a Greek group which is interested and is looking for a partner.”