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HPH states that Ecuador port project is on track

Hong Kong: Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) has stated that it was fully in compliance with a contract to develop a port in Ecuador, writes AFP, following reports the country's president said it could halt the project.

President Rafael Correa said over the weekend that Hutchison, the world's biggest container port operator, was in danger of losing its $520m contract to develop facilities at the Port of Manta (pictured), the South China Morning Post reported.

He said he had issued the company a "yellow card" over the development and if it did not meet the timetable "it will have to leave the country and you know we are not joking," the Post quoted him as saying.

Anthony Tam, a HPH spokesman said the company was meeting its commitment and was unaware of any changes to its contract. "We are in compliance with the concession agreement, and have been working closely with the local authorities to develop modern container-handling facilities at the Port of Manta," he said in a statement.

"HPH is committed to the long-term development of port infrastructure in Ecuador so as to maintain its commercial competitiveness in the region. We have not heard anything about changes to our concession contract."

The firm is owned by Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, which is the flagship firm of one of Asia's richest men, Li Ka-shing.

HPH signed a 30-year concession with the Manta Port Authority in 2006 to develop and manage the cargo terminal. The company has interests in 50 ports across the world, including in Argentina, the Bahamas, Mexico and Panama.  [05/01/09]

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