Hamburger Hafen und Logistik (HHLA) and Cosco Shipping Ports Limited (CSPL), the Hong Kong-listed terminal operator, are negotiating the purchase of a minority shareholding by CSPL in HHLA Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT), a wholly-owned subsidiary of HHLA.

CTT operates Container Terminal Tollerort, one of the three HHLA container terminals at the Port of Hamburg. It is the smallest of HHLA’s three terminals, having four berths. The other larger two being the Burchardkai and Alternwerder terminals.

The commercial and legal aspects of a minority shareholding by Cosco are currently the subject of ongoing negotiations – and no agreement has yet been reached between the two parties.

If these negotiations prove to be successful, it would be the first time that a non-German operator has bought into the country’s main container port and would consolidate Cosco’s presence at Hamburg and in northern Europe. The Chinese company has other European operations based at the Port of Piraeus, Italy’s Vardo Reefer Terminal, Bilbao and Valencia, Zeebrugge, Antwerp, and Rotterdam’s Euromax terminal.

HHLA has stated that any agreement would require the internal approval of the respective bodies of both parties, but, more importantly, it would require approval of the relevant regulatory authorities.

The statement noted: “HHLA expects the participation to strengthen the relationship with its Chinese partner as well as to provide sustainable planning security for Container Terminal Tollerort in order to safeguard volume and employment in the Port of Hamburg. CTT will continue to be open to all customers within HHLA’s network.”

Last month, HHLA reported a 7.2% volume decline in its three Hamburg terminals during the first three months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. The port continues to be impacted by congestion issues, which has caused the 2M partners, Maersk and MSC, to redirect container traffic to Bremerhaven.