China Cosco Shipping is poised to go on a fresh overseas investment spree to secure ports and logistics hubs as part of China’s efforts to create its huge “Belt and Road” economic zone aimed at increasing that country’s influence over distribution from Asia to Europe.
The state-owned shipping titan specifically plans to acquire a Spanish port operator for 200 million euros ($228 million) and spend $38 million to secure an inland logistics hub in Khorgos, Kazakhstan.
China Cosco Shipping, which was formally established in February 2016 through the merger of China Ocean Shipping (Group) and China Shipping (Group), is now at the vanguard of the Belt and Road initiative.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has advocated the scheme, as has the Chinese government, which hosted an international conference on it for the first time, in Beijing in May.
Riding the economic zone drive, Cosco has already moved to secure overseas business footholds, acquiring the Piraeus port in Greece and obtaining the rights to use container terminals in the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.
Cosco is again accelerating its drive to expand overseas operations as part of its growth strategy while playing the role of trailblazer in the Belt and Road scheme.
Recently in Hong Kong, Cosco Shipping Holdings, a major container transportation company of the Cosco group, announced that it had offered to buy the major shipping company Orient Overseas International, together with Shanghai International Port Group, for HK$49.2 billion ($6.3 billion).
The takeover will create the world’s third-largest shipping line by capacity as Beijing pushes to raise China’s profile in global shipping.
Cosco Shipping Ports, a Cosco group company, signed an agreement in June to acquire a 51% stake in Spanish port operator Noatum Ports, securing its biggest foothold at a port in the Mediterranean.
Noatum Ports operates terminals at ports such as the Valencia port, and railroad terminals in Madrid and elsewhere.