Piraeus Container Terminal’s (PCT’s) strong performance since it was taken over by China’s COSCO Pacific is proof that privatisation has been a success, a report has claimed.
It says that since the terminal was privatised in 2009, its new owner, COSCO Pacific, has managed double-digit annual growth numbers, which has seen Piraeus break into Europe’s top 10 box ports. In 2014 the port’s box handling rose 17.1% y/y to 3.7 million teu.
Monika Rozmarynowska, a consultant at Actia Forum, a public relations agency based in Gdynia, Poland, compiled the report entitled Top Ten European Container Ports in 2014. She told IHS Maritime, “Generally, PCT has been recording high growth rates after COSCO Pacific took over the terminal in 2009. These results are mainly due to growth in transhipment and transit volumes.”
By far the biggest contributor to what the report describes as an impressive performance was PCT, whose own numbers rose 18.5% to total 2.98 million teu. It compares this with the remaining 700,000 teu handled by the other terminal, which is operated by Piraeus Port Authority (PPA).
Growth at Piraeus far outstrips that at other top-10 European box ports, with Felixstowe in the UK reporting the next highest, at 7%. Piraeus now ranks at number eight – sandwiched between Felixstowe above and Italy’s Gioia Tauro below. It suffered the worst fall – 3.9%.
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Traffic at PCT has risen since from a base of just 433,000 teu in 2008 after COSCO Pacific won the 35-year concession for two of Piraeus’ three box quays.
Last year the Hong Kong-listed Chinese company announced a EUR230 million (USD285 million) investment, which includes a fourth quay to raise PCT’s capacity to 6 million teu.
Only Antwerp’s Gateway rivals PCT in growth percentage.
In 2014 COSCO Pacific signed up Sony to provide rail-sea freight services to Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, joining Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp of China plus Hewlett-Packard.
But the takeover has not been without controversy. In March this year, both PCT and COSCO Pacific were ordered to pay back ‘fiscal benefits’ given by the Greek state but subsequently deemed illegal as they gave PCT an unfair advantage over rivals and breached EU state aid regulations.
These benefits included tax exemptions and preferential accounting treatment.
Prior to the freezing of the sale of 67% of the Piraeus Port Authority when the new Syriza-led Greek government took office in January, COSCO Pacific was among five bidders looking to buy.
Now, a revised 51% of the authority is on offer and the Greek Asset Development Fund has invited bidders, including COSCO, to submit offers by September.