Chinese shipping group Cosco purchased a 67 per cent stake in the Greece’s largest port, Piraeus, valued at around 368.5 million euros. Cosco’s President, Xu Lirong, and Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, signed the deal on Friday. The agreement is, however, quite controversial. Dock workers have protested in central Athens because Cosco, owned by the Chinese government, was the sole bidder for the stake in Piraeus Port. Clearly, this move confirms China’s plans to build a European transport hub, since Piraeus is the main gateway to the Greek islands. On the other hand, for Greece it is the second major privatisation since July and the money raised will be used to re-capitalise banks and to finance investments. In the last five years, Greece has received 3.5 billion euros through privatisation.
It is believed that Cosco will also submit a bid for the Greek railroad company Trainose. By purchasing Trainose and Piraeus, Cosco would get maritime links the Suez Canal and rail links to the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In December, the Cosco increased its financial strength after it merged with China Shipping Group. Now the company is focused on expanding market share in Greece, in a difficult time for the shipping industry.