Cosco in Talks to Acquire Stake in Hamburg Container Terminal

CTT (Courtesy HHLA)

Published Jun 9, 2021 11:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

Chinese state-run shipping company Cosco Shipping Ports is seeking to tighten its grip on the European market by entering into negotiations for a stake in a terminal run by Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA).

Cosco, which is one of the world’s leading ports operators, has announced that it is currently engaged in negotiations with HHLA about a potential acquisition of a minority shareholding in HHLA Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT), one of three HHLA terminals in Hamburg. The port is one of Europe’s busiest, with a cargo throughput of about at 126 million tons in 2020.

Cosco said in a statement that although the parties have not entered into any legally binding agreement, negotiations are ongoing. “There is no assurance by the company that the potential acquisition will materialize or eventually be consummated,” noted Cosco.

HHLA operates and manages three container terminals at the port of Hamburg, including CTT. The company’s first quarter results showed the handling volume at the three Hamburg container terminals was 7.2 percent below the previous year's level.

“With the participation, HHLA expects to strengthen the customer relationship with the Chinese partner as well as sustainable planning security for the CTT in order to secure quantity and employment in the port of Hamburg. The CTT will continue to be open to all customers in the HHLA network,” said HHLA in a statement.

Cosco’s plan to acquire a stake in CTT is in line with its strategy of building a global terminal network. By end of last year, Cosco's terminal portfolio covered the five main port regions in mainland China, as well as the key hub ports in Southeast Asia, Middle East, Europe, South America and the Mediterranean with a nameplate handling capacity of 136 million TEUs - more than any other container terminal operator in the world. Currently the company operates and manages 357 berths at 36 ports, including 210 berths for containers.

Europe, which is part of its overseas business, has emerged as an important growth region for the company. In Europe, the company has stakes in Antwerp Terminal in Belgium and CSP Bilbao Terminal and CSP Valencia Terminal, both in Spain.

Cosco has also been seeking opportunities in other regions. This year alone, it has acquired a 20 percent equity interest in Red Sea Gateway Terminal Company and a 35 percent equity stake in Tianjin Container Terminal.