Three China firms to invest in harbor project: Yang Ming

COLLABORATION::The 30 percent stake in Kao Ming Terminal would mark the biggest Chinese investment in Taiwan’s public infrastructure

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 - Page 1

Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp (陽明海運) announced yesterday that three Chinese shipping companies would invest in its container terminal operator subsidiary in Kaohsiung Harbor.

The three Chinese companies — COSCO Pacific Ltd (中遠太平洋), China Shipping Terminal Development Co (中海碼頭發展) and China Merchants Holdings (International) Co (招商局國際) — established a Hong Kong-based joint venture to acquire 30 percent of Kao Ming Container Terminal Corp (高明貨櫃碼頭公司) for US$135 million, Yang Ming said.

The joint venture, Cheer Dragon Investment Ltd (政龍投資), yesterday said it had secured the approval of the Ministry of Economic Affairs for its application to invest NT$4.05 billion (US$135 million) in the container harbor in Greater Kaohsiung, according to a press release by the Investment Commission.

The agreement marked the first investment in Taiwan’s public infrastructure by Chinese investors. The amount, US$135 million, would also be the largest single Chinese investment in Taiwan since it relaxed rules on Chinese investment in 2009.

“The unprecedented investment in Kao Ming Terminal will provide a good opportunity for an exchange of experience ... [and would] strengthen cooperation between Taiwan and China,” Yang Ming said in a statement.

Yang Ming, the nation’s second-largest container shipper in terms of fleet size, has been planning to sell 40 percent of Kao Ming’s shareholding to foreign container shippers since 2010. In July, the Taiwanese company sold a 10 percent stake in Kao Ming to Ports America International Holdings Cooperative, an affiliate of the US terminal operator Ports America Group.

Kao Ming Terminal — inaugurated on Jan. 1 last year — is the first-phase of a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project of Kaohsiung Harbor International Container Center carried out by Yang Ming, with it currently handling more than 2 million twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) of containers.

The Kaohsiung Continental Container Terminal Center, one of the government’s 12 major infrastructure projects, represents a major milestone for the company’s terminal development, Yang Ming said in the statement.

The second-phase of the BOT project, started earlier this year, is scheduled for completion in September 2014 and will allow the terminal to accommodate four 14,000-TEU container vessels at one time.

The three firms have maintained close cooperation with Yang Ming in terms of terminal investment and operations, the statement added.

Yang Ming posted a net loss of NT$2.49 billion, or NT$0.88 per share, in the first three quarters of the year, compared with loss of NT$5.3 billion, or NT$1.88 per share, a year ago, the company said in a stock exchange filing.