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January 24, 2012

Aitken Spence sells Sri Lankan port stake to CMHI

Aitken Spence is to sell its 30% stake in the $500m Colombo Port project to partner China Merchants Holdings International (CMHI).

By Patrick Scott

Aitken Spence is to sell its 30% stake in the $500m Colombo Port project to partner China Merchants Holdings International (CMHI). The transaction cost was not disclosed.

Aitken Spence pulled out of the joint venture with Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and CMHI due to high costs and unreasonable demands. CMHI has a 55% ownership stake in the project. After the acquisition of the Aitken Spence stake, it will hold 85%, while the remaining 15% will held by SLPA.

The cost of the project has escalated to an estimated $600m, up from the original estimate of $450m.

Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT) has the contract to construct and operate the Colombo South Container Terminal for 35 years. The first phase will be completed and operational by the middle of 2014.

The terminal will have a total quay length of 1,200m, a land area of 58ha, a quay-side water depth of 18m and a design capacity of 2.4 million teu. After completion, the Colombo South Container Terminal will be the only port in Sri Lanka that will be able to handle ships over a 14,500 teu capacity.

The planned 12-berth South Harbor Hub will have three terminals, each with a quay length of 3,937ft.

Bidding for the next two phases, covering the eastern and western terminals, will be invited at a later stage.

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