Hutchison Whampoa, Modern Terminals and other international port operators may bid for the development of the third phase of Shanghai's Yangshan port, Shanghai International Port Group said. Chen Xuyuan, the president of Shanghai International Port, said yesterday the company is inviting bids from strategic investors for the new deep-water port, whose first phase started operations late last year. Several overseas port operators have shown interest, including Hutchison and Modern Terminals, Singapore's PSA and Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, Mr Chen said. 'Our goal is to become a leading world port operator. We'll take a more open strategy to raise our operational and management ability to international standards,' he said. He said Shanghai's port has been co-operating well with Hutchison chairman Li Ka-shing for many years and that Mr Li has shown 'keen interest' in the third phase of Yangshan. The Shanghai company is studying the operational model for the third phase, which is expected to be announced early next year. The third phase will be completed before 2010 with seven deep-water berths along a 2.6km stretch. According to official forecasts, Shanghai will handle more than 20 million 20-foot boxes this year, making it the world's third-busiest port behind Singapore and Hong Kong. It is expected that Yangshan will increase its capacity fivefold to 15 million boxes a year by 2012 from three million boxes now. Mr Chen expects the company to complete the acquisition of a 40 per cent stake in Belgium's Zeebrugge port from Maersk and form a joint venture by the first half of next year in an effort to explore overseas markets. The group is also looking for more potential acquisition targets. Shares of Shanghai International Port fell 3.62 per cent to 6.66 yuan.