This would be the second time this year the terminal developer has reduced shares in south China port Cosco Pacific is in advanced talks to divest a minority stake in the four billion yuan, second phase of the container port complex at Nansha on the Pearl River, according to managing director Sun Jiakang. Mr Sun said the blue-chip terminal developer was talking to a 'strategic investor' - a major shipping line - about taking as much as 13 per cent of the project. It would be the second time this year Cosco has shed shares in a south China port. Mr Sun did not name the line, but the state-owned parents of Cosco and China Shipping Group - two of the port's main stakeholders - have been increasingly worried about a lack of business at Nansha since its launch a year ago. Interim earnings for Cosco jumped 130.55 per cent to US$214.77 million, boosted by a maiden US$40.23 million contribution from its 16.23 per cent stake in China International Marine Containers (Group) and a US$61.87 million exceptional gain from selling 17.5 per cent of Shekou Container Terminals, near Shenzhen. 'It didn't all come from core earnings, but their core earnings vehicles both saw double-digit growth, so it's actually quite a solid set of results,' an analyst said. Revenue for the six months to June grew 9.4 per cent to US$141.89 million. An all-in dividend of 39.4 HK cents per share was declared, including a special dividend of 11.3 HK cents. The company's port division, which handled 17.5 per cent more volume, saw an 11 per cent rise in earnings. Profit contribution for its container leasing division, the fourth-largest in the world, grew 13 per cent, analysts said. Stripping off the exceptional items, underlying profit jumped 60 per cent to US$153 million. Deputy managing director Kelvin Wong Tin-yau said he expected earnings momentum to build in the third quarter and the firm would continue to look for opportunities to expand its port network, which reached 19 terminals in the first half. 'We have a number of projects in the pipeline,' Mr Wong said. 'The focus will be on China, but our discussions also include possibilities in Europe.' On July 5, Cosco sold 5 per cent of its minority interest in an Antwerp facility to French flag carrier CMA CGM for a profit of US$1.4 million, 'essentially, at cost', Mr Wong said. Its mainland facilities - which include Yantian, Qingdao, Dalian and Shanghai - saw container volumes increase 17.6 per cent year on year to 10.87 million teu (20-foot equivalent units). But all eyes will be on whether it is awarded a stake in the second phase of the 18 billion yuan Yangshan deepwater port project near the mouth of the Yangtze River, where it is thought to be one of the frontrunners. 'For the port sector, their organic earnings growth was in the high teens, and it was in the teens for their leasing business. But they are giving guidance for the group in the 20 to 25 per cent range, so they are probably factoring in acquisitions,' a transport analyst said.