Mainland operator set to invest in Taiwanese port

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am


COSCO Pacific, the mainland's leading port operator, said yesterday that talks to acquire a stake in Kaohsiung Port, Taiwan's busiest, were continuing, but there was nothing yet to disclose.

The port arm of China COSCO Holding, the largest shipping conglomerate in China, is poised to be the first mainland operator to invest in a Taiwanese port, a significant milestone that reflects the improving cross-strait relationship between Beijing and Taipei.

China Cosco is said to be interested in acquiring half of the 40 per cent stake being sold by Yang Ming Shipping, Taiwan's second-largest shipping line, in Kaohsiung's No6 terminal, Reuters reported.

K-Line is also reported to be in talks with the Taiwanese shipping line about buying the remaining half.

Yang Ming will first increase the equity capital of the port before selling the stakes, lifting the port's equity capital to as much as NT$7 billion (HK$1.8 billion) from NT$4.1 billion.

It is estimated that the investment in a 20 per cent stake would be NT$1.2 billion to NT$1.4 billion, Reuters said.

A China COSCO spokesman said COSCO Pacific was responsible for port acquisitions.

China Merchants Holdings (International), a mainland rival of COSCO Pacific, has also held talks with Taiwan counterparts over purchasing stakes in Kaohsiung port in the past. China Merchants chairman Fu Yuning visited Kaohsiung Port and expressed an interest in taking a stake.

Experts said currency regulations affecting mainland businesses in Taiwan had made it hard for companies to repatriate profits in the past, impeding cross-strait investment.

But it was not known whether a cross-strait deal would be accompanied by a relaxation in Taiwan's currency regulations.

Shares in COSCO Pacific rose 1.27 per cent to HK$ 12.76 while China COSCO rose 1.17 per cent to HK$ 5.19 yesterday.