Hutchison Whampoa subsidiary European Combined Terminals (ECT) is to take joint control of Europe's largest inland port. The European Commission (EC) yesterday granted permission for ECT, a 79 per cent-owned subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, to raise its stake and take control of the German port of Duisburg with existing shareholders Deutsche Bahn, a German railway company, and United Depots of Hamburg. Details of the shareholding breakdown are not available. The EC approved the joint operation of two adjoining terminals in Duisburg - DeCeTe and ECT Duisburg. ECT last month proposed increasing its stake in DeCeTe to give it joint control of the German port. In exchange, ECT would lease its Duisburg container terminal to DeCeTe, in which ECT is a minority shareholder. The EC said combining the capacities of the two Duisburg terminals would not prevent effective competition, noting the joint venture would be the largest provider of transshipment and inland waterway transport services in the Rhur region. Hutchison Whampoa already owns three British ports and Europe's largest container terminal operator, ECT. Last year, the EC approved a shareholder transaction within ECT, which saw Hutchison lift its stake from 35 to 79 per cent. Meanwhile, Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI), an 85 per cent-owned subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, is in contention to take over British water utility Wessex Water from bankrupt Enron. CKI is on a short list for the regional water supplier, which is among assets Enron is offering for sale. The bid is expected to be announced by the end of next month, and the sale is expected to raise GBP1 billion (about HK$11.03 billion). In preparation for the bid, capital magazine Basis Point reported that CKI could raise financing of up to HK$10 billion. The company is arranging a HK$3.8 billion refinancing at an all-in yield of 34 basis points over the Hong Kong interbank offered rate. CKI faces at least eight other potential bidders, including Royal Bank of Scotland, the investment banking arm of Barclays, Candover Investments, Germany's Westdeutsche Landesbank and power utility Scottish & Southern Energy. Investment bank Goldman Sachs said in a research report last week that full ownership of Wessex Water could cost between HK$8.9 billion and HK$11.1 billion.