WHARF (Holdings) Ltd. unit Modern Terminals is eyeing a majority stake in a US$1 billion port expansion project near Shanghai to boost its position in China’s fast-growing east coast region.
Modern Terminals, the second-largest port operator in Hong Kong, already held a controlling stake in the first two phases of the Taicang container terminal, a major gateway to the affluent Yangtze River Delta area.
“We are looking for investors for the next two phases and Modern Terminals has expressed a strong interest,” Xie Ming, Taicang mayor, said Friday.
He did not name other potential partners for the expansion project, which still needs regulatory approval, but said stakes to be granted to overseas investors would most likely exceed 50 percent.
Danny Wang, deputy general manager of a Modern Terminals local venture that operates Taicang terminal, confirmed the Hong Kong company was seeking a majority stake in phase III and phase IV and that talks with the government were going smoothly.
He added that the capacity of the Taicang container terminal will reach 2.5 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) when phase II is completed by the end of this year. It could double to 5 million TEU when the next two phases, with eight more berths, come onstream in the near future.
Modern Terminals, 68 percent owned by Wharf (Holdings), has invested more than 10 billion yuan in mainland ports so far, including two facilities in Shenzhen.
Other overseas players, such as Danish shipping and oil giant A.P. Moeller-Maersk, are also active on the mainland, banking on its booming foreign trade.
Moeller-Maersk and Hutchison Whampoa each hold 32 percent in phase II of Shanghai’s Yangshan port project. (SD-Agencies)