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Germany greenlights COSCO’s Hamburg deal

The German government has agreed to allow China’s COSCO to acquire a reduced stake in Hamburger Hafen und Logistik (HHLA)’s operations at the container terminal in Tollerort in Germany’s largest port in Hamburg.

Hong Kong-listed terminal operator COSCO Shipping Ports Limited (CSPL) moved last year to take a 35% stake in the Tollerort operator (CTT), which would mark the first time ever that a foreign firm has been able to invest in the country’s main container port. 

Tollerort is one of three container terminals of HHLA, a company in which the local Hamburg government has a majority stake. The deal, which was subject to approval by the German government, dragged on until well into 2022, extending the closure deadline until October 31.

Under the compromise agreed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet, COSCO will be allowed to buy a minority stake of 24.9%. Scholz, a former Hamburg mayor, who supported the agreement, is set to visit China next week. The agreement was reached despite fierce opposition from several German ministries, which expressed concerns about critical infrastructure falling into foreign hands.

However, Angela Titzrath, chairwoman of HHLA’s executive board, stressed that neither CTT, HHLA, nor the Port of Hamburg will be sold to China, adding that HHLA will remain an independent, listed company with the City of Hamburg as its most important shareholder.

“With CSPL’s investment, CTT will become a preferred hub for Asian traffic. HHLA retains sole control over all major decisions. COSCO will not receive any exclusive rights to CTT – the terminal will remain open to container volumes from all customers. CSPL also does not gain access to strategic know-how, and IT and sales data remain the sole responsibility of HHLA,” Titzrath said.
“China accounts for 20% of global economic output, far ahead of the US. A company like HHLA must and wants to maintain good relations with its Chinese trading partners,” she added.

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.
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