Chinese Invest in Australian Port

By MarEx 2015-10-13 11:05:34

China’s Landbridge Group purchased a 99-year lease in the Port of Darwin in north Australia for $370 million as the country seeks to capitalize on rising Chinese demand for imported food and overseas travel.

Landbridge is a privately-owned Chinese energy and infrastructure company, and are expected to significantly upgrade the port’s cargo and cruise terminals. Landbridge is reportedly investing over $200 million in growth projects which include container handling and refrigerated storage for beef exports over the next 25 years.

Under the terms of the agreement, Landbridge will take over operations of Darwin Port as well as the facilities of East Arm Wharf, the Darwin Military Supply Base and Fort Hill Wharf. Landbridge aims to increase two-way trade between Australia and Asia by using its existing port and logistics businesses in Asia.

Landbridge reportedly paid the full price for the lease but has only taken an 80 percent stake in Darwin Port. Landbridge will be required to find an Australian investor to purchase the remaining 20 percent within five years. The Australian government will hold the remaining 20 percent stake until an investor is found.

Darwin is the latest in a string of ports sold by cash-strapped state and territory governments as they seek funds for infrastructure.

In April 2014, the China Merchants Group partnered with Australia-based Hastings Fund Management to secure a 98-year of Australia’s Newcastle Port, which is the world’s largest coal export terminal.

Australia’s state governments, once hesitant to give up tax revenue by selling infrastructure, have had a change of heart since New South Wales sold its desalination plant for $2.3 billion in 2012.

In early 2014, the federal government said it would pay states to sell assets as treasurers across jurisdictions to lure local and international investment.

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Piracy Attempt Thwarted

By MarEx 2015-10-13 10:57:00

The crew aboard the Philippine-flagged M/V Cecilia V thwarted a piracy attempt off the Davao del Sur province on October 10.

According to Sarangani Coast Guard officials, nine pirated approached the ship on two motorized boats. Captain Elvy Elim spotted the pirates as they approached his vessel and ordered his 22 crewmembers to close all possible entry points and to lock themselves in their rooms.

Elim then notified the coast guard that there were pirates approaching his ship.

The pirates reportedly walked around the ship for close to an hour trying to enter its rooms and asking for food. The coast guard’s response team arrived on the scene about one hour after Elim’s distress signal, but the pirates had already fled the scene.

Maritime piracy has skyrocketed in Southeast Asia this year. In July, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) said that incidents of piracy and armed robbery had risen 18 percent during the first half of 2015 over last year.

Last week, the Philippines, the U.S. and five other nations participated in a five-day naval exercise to combat rising regional piracy. The Singapore-based Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training Exercise (SEACAT) included more than 100 U.S. sailors and personnel from the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand. Bangladeshi navy officials also observed the exercises.

The Cecilia V was carrying 950 metric tons of copra from Davao to Santos City.

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