Cosco Pacific, the shipping group which on Monday launched a HK$1.55 billion equity raising, is seeking to arrange a HK$3 billion loan facility to fund its participation in the Tuen Mun River Trade Terminal project. Cosco (Hong Kong) Group executive vice-chairman Zhang Dachun said proposals for the loan had been invited from investment banks. The group is part of a consortium which won the bid for development and operation of the river trade terminal in February. Preparatory work has begun for the construction of the terminal. Cosco Pacific deputy general manager Kelvin Wong said the company would spend US$300 million to buy new containers next year. The company intends to buy 50,000 dry freight containers and 10,000 refrigerated containers. The company is to supply its Beijing-controlled parent China Ocean Shipping (Group) with 30,000 dry containers in the first half and 20,000 in the second. The parent company is the largest single customer of the container leasing and terminal operation company. Mr Wong said Container Terminal 8 East, which Cosco operated with Hongkong International Terminals, would benefit substantially from new vessels next year. Cosco would have three to four vessels delivered early next year, creating demand for an additional 80,000 teu (20-foot equivalent units), director Luk Chi-wing said. Mr Wong said the funds raised from Monday's fund-raising exercise would be used to buy containers and for working capital. Cosco gave a detailed briefing to fund managers and analysts about the placement and subscription yesterday. After the exercise, the company's gearing will stand at 50 per cent. Mr Wong said the company's board had agreed to amend its 10-year depreciation policy on dry freight containers and 12-year policy on refrigerated containers to a standard 15 years. This policy, approved by Price Waterhouse, would not affect Cosco in any way, he said. Cosco Pacific has reported a 47.41 per cent rise in net profit to US$32.4 million for the six months to June. Turnover rose 17.65 per cent to US$68.9 million from US$58.56 million. An interim dividend of six Hong Kong cents a share was declared. Earnings per share fell to 1.95 US cents from 2.15 US cents.