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Cosco in move to acquire additional stake in Piraeus Port Authority

Photo: PPA Piraeus port aerial view
Despite growing opposition to its investments plans for the port of Piraeus, Cosco Shipping has made a first official move to acquire a further 16% stake in the Athens Stock Exchange-listed Piraeus Port Authority (PPA).

Indeed, the Chinese company which already holds a majority 51% stake in the PPA, is citing Greek authorities for delaying purchase of the additional holding as provided for in the 2016 contract for the original majority purchase.

In a 21-page letter, dated 23 November and addressed to state privatisation fund Taiped, Cosco blames Greek authorities for the fact that many of the mandatory investments provided by the PPA share transaction contract have not proceeded.

The concession contract dictated Cosco would first get a 51% stake in the PPA and that five years later it would collect another 16%, on the condition it had implemented the investments foreseen.

Initially little progress was made towards approving the necessary investments under Greece’s then socialist government. When the government changed in mid-2019, it took  time to examine a number of details, while Cosco added a new project to its master plan, a fourth container terminal at Piraeus Port, which has not been approved as it has run into multiple reactions and is seen as requiring more consultation.

Most of the other investments in the master plan were approved in the fall of 2019. However, one year on, many permits and approvals, such as those for environmental studies, have not proceeded, so the necessary presidential decree has yet to be issued.

Since the start of 2020, the port’s management has been in talks with Taiped, asking for the acquisition of the 16% stake, foreseeing that the timely completion of the investments required was practically impossible, even if the licensing process had been sped up.

Meanwhile, opposition to a number of PPA’s planned investments is growing as local Piraeus-based authorities, including the Town Hall, have expressed growing disquiet about the implementation of PPA’s investment programme.