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Cosco Shipping Ports (CSP) today announced it is to buy a 51% stake in Noatum Port Holdings (NPH) – and there are rumours of further major acquisitions, possibly a shipping line.
The NPH deal, worth €203m, will give CSP access to the container terminals at the ports of Valencia (pictured) and Bilbao, as well as the Conterail Madrid and NRTZ Zaragoza rail terminals.
In a statement, Hong Kong-based terminal operator CSP said the agreement would further its efforts in extending its European network.
It said: “[The ports of Valencia and Bilbao] will enjoy business support from Cosco Shipping’s container fleet and the OCEAN Alliance. And, due to its location, the port of Valencia is well situated to act as a West Mediterranean transhipment hub.”
Senior ports and terminals analyst at Drewry Neil Davidson told The Loadstar the acquisition was “a natural progression” of CSP’s rapid, and continuing international expansion.
“CSP has a five-year target to increase total assets by 50%, grow equity-weighted throughput by 60% and double net profit by 2021,” said Mr Davidson
“So the acquisition of two Noatum terminals is a natural part of this process; CSP does not have a presence in Spain, and so Valencia and Bilbao complement the existing portfolio.”
In April, the OCEAN Alliance began switching to the NCTV container terminal at the port of Valencia and started a feeder service from Bilbao’s NCTB container terminal.
Chief executive of NPH Douglas Schultz said: “The partnership seeks to maximise the capacity of the container terminals by implementing the group’s long term strategic plans to optimise structure and efficiency.
“In addition, the partnership will support improvements in the railway terminals of Zaragoza and Conterail in Madrid.”
Mr Schultz said NPH’s 45% stake in OPCSA Las Palmas would remain in current NPH shareholders hands and its vehicle and bulk terminals, including Barcelona, would be excluded from the deal.
Last August, CSP acquired a 51% stake in Piraeus Port Authority for €280.5m, with the option to acquire a further 16% share over five years for €88m. Mr Davidson said the agreement with NPH would add to CSP’s Mediterranean reach.
“CSP also has terminal interests in the East Med (Port Said East), Central Med (Piraeus and Ambarli),” he said. “Then there is the joint venture with APMT in Savona (Vado) for the terminal being developed there.”
Following today’s announcement, many assumed this was the deal which saw the suspension of CSP shares in May, but with shares still suspended there is speculation of further purchases.
One report even suggested CSP may be gearing up to acquire a shipping line, though the company was not available for comment.