According to Alphaliner, a transaction that was believed to have been a ‘done deal’ could yet stall near the finish line, as a changing geopolitical landscape has prompted the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs to put COSCO’s foreign direct investment on hold. HHLA infrastructure under control.
In August 2021, the Hamburg-based port and logistics group HHLA and COSCO Shipping Ports (CSP) jointly announced an agreement in principle under which the Chinese company would acquire an equity stake in the CTT container terminal in Hamburg, reports Alphaliner.
Alphaliner mentions that the move was seen as a win-win as COSCO Shipping has been a loyal customer of CTT for decades and the Chinese investment would pave the way for the construction of an additional berth for megamax vessels at the smallest of the four main terminals. container ship from Hamburg.
HHLA and CSP formally agreed on September 21, 2021 to sell a 35% stake in the terminal at an undisclosed price. Closing of the transaction was subject to various antitrust and foreign trade approvals, while the HHLA Oversight Board approved the minority stake more or less immediately, reports Alphaliner.
The article mentions that the approvals were considered formalities, but two things have changed since then: On September 26, 2021, Germany elected a coalition government of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals, in which the Ministry of Economy changed hands from the conservatives to the greens, who are traditionally ‘anti’ port development and infrastructure expansion.
Adding to this, Alphaliner adds that Russia’s attack on Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and Germany’s perceived reliance on foreign-owned infrastructure such as oil pipelines and tank terminals has made the public much more anxious about infrastructure sales to foreign countries or state-owned foreign players such as COSCO.
As reported by Alphaliner, German Economics Minister Robert Habeck plans to block the sale at the last minute. German Chancellor and former Mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz, on the other hand, seems inclined to let it slide. Meanwhile, HHLA maintains its position that the process to get government approval was still “on track,” though it admits it was slow.