CSX World Terminals plans to expand its Asian operations and is considering raising funding through several options. CSX World Terminals president and chief executive Robert Grassi said though the group was not planning an IPO, it was one of many options available. Following a ceremony to mark its Tianjin joint-venture terminal's handling of its one millionth teu (20 ft equivalent unit) in Tianjin last week, Mr Grassi said: 'The group is confident in China's future, and in its economy which is growing rapidly,' he said. The joint-venture Sea-Land Orient (Tianjin) Container Terminals (Slott) - operated by CSX World Terminals, the Port of Tianjin Authority and New World Infrastructure - controls four container berths at Tianjin port, with total berth length of 1,150 metres and water depth of 12 metres. The joint venture started operations in January last year, and handled 461,129 teu last year. It expects to handle 730,000 teu this year. Slott vice-president and general manager Richard Chang said with continued efforts on process improvement and heavy IT investment, Slott's productivity has nearly doubled from 19 moves to 30 moves per hour per share crane, a 58 per cent increase in one year. The biggest vessel to visit the terminal was one from South Korean carrier Hanjin Shipping Line at 4,050 teu, he said. The terminal expects to receive vessels with capacities that are were close to 5,000 teu by the end of this year. Slott had no problem handling fifth-generation and sixth-generation container vessels, which carried 5,000 teu and 6,000 teu, respectively, if they took advantage of the high tide to enter the berths, Mr Chang said. The joint-venture had ordered three quayside cranes from Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Co, which would each be able to span 16 containers wide on a vessel, he said. The cranes would supplement the existing two, which could handle up to 14 containers wide. While Slott's neighbours were using cranes which could handle 18 to 20 containers wide, Mr Chang said: 'We don't think we need such cranes right now, but we might strengthen our capability in two to three years.' Mr Grassi said China's entry into the World Trade Organisation would have a good effect on the mainland's trade and the group was looking forward to the expected opportunities. CSX World Terminals vice-president China investments William McHugh, said the group was looking at investment opportunities in Tianjin and at other mainland coastal ports. The Port of Tianjin Authority's vice-director Tian Chang-song said the port authority expected to complete the construction of further terminals by the end of the year. The port authority was expected to invite bids for these terminals, which would include expressions of interest from CSX World Terminals. Mr Chang said there would be four berths available in the northside for tender by 2001 and Slott had the first right of refusal over these. He was optimistic Tianjin port's business would prosper as the business grew. He said shipping lines called at Shanghai port, which had a draught of only 8.5 metres, as a result of its booming business and not because of the facilities. Tianjin hoped to generate direct business from Beijing and Outer Mongolia, where United States firms were buying textiles, he added. The Tianjin government was trying to develop multi-modal transport facilities and these would assist port growth.