COSCO Buys Stake in Hamburg Container Terminal for European Hub

China's COSCO buys stake in Hamburg container terminal
COSCO will establish a hub in Hamburg with a minority ownership interest (COSCO)

Published Sep 21, 2021 7:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

COSCO Shipping Ports, part of China’s state-owned shipping group, has entered into a strategic alliance with Hamburg’s large container terminal operator Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA). Under the terms of the agreement, COSCO will buy a minority interest in the HHLA Container Terminal Tollerort, one of three terminals operated by HHLA, with Tollerort becoming COSCO’s preferred hub for all of its European shipping operations.

Under the terms of the agreement, COSCO Shipping Ports will acquire a 35 percent minority interest in Container Terminal Tollerort. It is part of the Chinese company’s strategy to build a global terminal network expanding its current operations which include five terminals in China. As of June 30, 2021, COSCO Shipping Ports operated and managed 357 berths at 36 ports worldwide, of which 210 were for containers, with a combined annual handling capacity of 118 million TEU.

Zhang Dayu, Managing Director of CSPL said "Container Terminal Tollerort in Hamburg is a keystone of logistics in Europe and has excellent future development prospects. We look forward to working together with our partner HHLA to unleash the existing potential and further develop the terminal."

COSCO noted that the Port of Hamburg features a strong geographical location and has abundant rear collection and distribution facilities, making it one of the most important trade hubs from Europe to China. The Tollerot terminal has four berths, including the ability to handle COSCO’s largest 20,000 TEU vessels, and 14 container gantry cranes. It also has a railway station with a total of five tracks providing strong access to inland destinations.

HHLA expects the agreement to strengthen the relationship with its Chinese partner, as well as long-term planning security for Container Terminal Tollerort and secured capacity and employment in the Port of Hamburg. With the minority interest of CSPL, CTT will become the preferred transshipment point for COSCO, where cargo flows will be concentrated.

Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of HHLA’s Executive Board, noted that the shipping industry is undergoing drastic changes. HHLA noted that it has been working with Chinese shippers for 40 years and it hopes that by building this relationship that it can expand on the operations to enhance the interconnection in the logistics business between China and Hamburg.

The Port of Hamburg recently reported that it had begun to recover primarily during the second quarter of 2021 from the impacts of the pandemic. During the first six months of the year, the port’s total cargo volume was up 3.8 percent to 63.5 million tons. They reported that the trend was also distinctly upwards for container handling in Hamburg with a 5.5 percent increase to 4.3 million TEU in the first half of the year. Ahead by more than six percent, export container handling at 2.1 million TEU grew faster than imports which were up five percent to 2.2 million TEU. According to HHLA, nearly a third of the containers handled in Hamburg have their origin in China or are destined for the Chinese market.