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Taiwan firm buys 50% of China port in landmark deal

Thursday January 20, 2005

Taiwan firm buys 50% of China port in landmark deal

HONG KONG: Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp has clinched a landmark deal to take a 50% stake in China’s second busiest port. 

But given the political sensitivities, the US$125mil investment in Ningbo port, located just south of Shanghai, will be made by Evergreen’s Italian subsidiary, Lloyd Triestino. The deal is the first China port investment by a Taiwan company. 

“We signed the contract on Monday,” Ningbo port president Li Linghong told a news conference here yesterday. Evergreen Marine is the world’s third largest shipping line. 

China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has threatened to invade it if declares formal independence. But despite often high political tensions, trade, investment and tourism across the Taiwan Strait have boomed with Taiwanese investors pouring an estimated US$100bil into China’s fast-growing economy. 

Billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa Ltd and Hong Kong–listed container ship operator Orient Overseas (International) Ltd (OOIL) also confirmed yesterday they would take part in projects with a total investment of US$800mil to help expand Ningbo port. 

OOIL, controlled by the family of Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, and the Ningbo Port Group will invest US$650mil in a fifth phase of the container terminal. 

Hutchison’s mainland port operation would invest in a separate US$150mil project to expand another terminal at the port on China’s affluent east coast, Li Linghong said. The Hutchison unit will have a 49% stake in the expansion. 

The investments indicate the eagerness of overseas players to grab a slice of China’s burgeoning trade as its manufacturers ship in vast amounts of raw materials and export a huge array of finished products to countries seeking cheaper goods. – Reuters  

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