COSCO Shipping plans to sell its Long Beach container terminal through a US trustfund to enable it to merge with the terminal's owner, OOCL.
The sale is intended to appease US
regulators concerned with a Chinese state-owned enterprise owning a
major import facility, reported Supply Chain Dive, Washington, DC.
The divestment makes it official: with no further roadblocks, Cosco will
start its takeover of OOCL's operations to become the world's third
largest shipping line by container capacity.
It's not just capacity Cosco is acquiring: OOCL is one of the shipping
lines with the most reliable customer service, a pipeline of use cases
for new technology like artificial intelligence and a container terminal
in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
The question now is who will buy OOCL's other terminal at the port of
Long Beach that has an annual throughput of seven million TEU and
handles one-fifth of total US trade volumes.
Various shipping lines already have a stake in four of the six Long
Beach containerterminals: MSC has a majority stake in Pier T; a "K" Line
subsidiary operates Pier G; and Cosco owns Pier J. OOCL's Long Beach
container terminal occupies Pier F and could be sold, in theory, to
another major carrier or global terminal operator.
Maersk Line emerges as a potential top suitor to buy the terminal. When
Hanjin Shipping was selling its assets to escape bankruptcy, the 2M
alliance partner was seen as a natural fit.
Smaller carriers looking to make waves on a global scale may also be
interested. Hyundai Merchant Marine was also a strong suitor at the time
of Hanjin's collapse and has shown interest in being a big player on
the east-west trades.
Ocean Network Express, Evergreen Marine, CMA CGM or terminal operators
already inLong Beach like SSA Terminals should not be discounted either.