Cosco Shipping's investment plans for Piraeus port rejected

Cosco Shipping’s ‘honeymoon period’ between it and the Greek state is essentially over, following the rejection by the state of much of Cosco’s investment plan for Piraeus port.

For certain the EUR580m ($650m) investment programme for Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) has reached an impasse, after a Shipping and Island Policy Ministry-affiliated Port Planning and Development Commission nixed the PPA management's investment master plan.

The rejection came although the overall performance of Piraeus continues to bound along, at an ever more impressive level since the major port's privatization agreement, in August 2016 between the Greek government and Shanghai-based Cosco, a global giant in shipping and port management.

For many months Cosco has been maintaining the Ministry was dragging its feet regrading the investment plan. News of the rejection brought no official response from the PPA management, although unofficially "displeasure, towards all sides involved” was said to have been expressed.

Mostly based on environmental impact studies, Greece’s port regulator cited discrepancies over the projects Cosco must implement at the port as part of a concession agreement. Under its concession contract Cosco is obliged to pump another EUR293m in investment through the PPA. Cosco has stressed its investment plan can only apply in its entirety.

Projects failing to get the "green light" were a shopping mall in the vicinity of a new cruise terminal, one of four proposed hotels, the creation of a logistics centre within the port premises and adjacent to the western municipality of Keratsini municipality, in the region of the booming Cosco-run container terminals II and III, the installment of a synchrolift, and two new parking areas.

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While the Port Planning and Development Commission was meeting the 20,000 teu COSCO Shipping Pisces docked in Piraeus, after sailing nearly a month from China on her maiden voyage. The vessel spent 24-hours in the port before departing for Antwerp in Belgium.

Meanwhile, a draft bill was to be tabled in the Greek parliament February 21, to allow the privatisation of specific activities at 10 regional port authorities around the country. The shares of the 10 regional ports are held by Greece's privatisation agency, Taiped.

As opposed to the full privatisation as was the case with Greece's two biggest ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, the state will not grant ownership of the regional ports through share purchases, but through activity concessions.

Posted 25 February 2019

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David Glass

Greece Correspondent, Seatrade Maritime

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