Two of the country's largest shipping companies, China Ocean Shipping (COSCO), which failed to raise the expected funds in its recent desultory debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and its rival China Shipping Container Lines, a unit of China Shipping Group, gained Beijing's blessing to raise more than US$350m in debt financing.
Eyeing expanded access to ports and container lines worldwide, China Shipping Group is vying with CMA CGM, the French container shipping line, to acquire CP Ships in a deal that could exceed US$1.46bn. CP Ships, based in London but listed in Toronto, is expected to choose a preferred bidder before October.
Meanwhile, cargo volume at Shanghai's port is breaking records, rising 28% in July to a record 1.6m TEUs. The period January through July also saw the port handle a record volume of 10.16m TEUs, up 26.8% from a year ago. Shenzhen port's cargo volume rose 22% between January and July to 8.82m TEUs, as it continued to chip away at Hong Kong's cargo share.
At the receiving end, on the other side of the Pacific, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which receive about 80% of imports from Asia, recently expanded their hours to accommodate China's surging cargo, a cause of the port bottlenecks that have resulted in ships stranded offshore while awaiting cargo queues to clear.
The congestion has caught the attention of other west coast ports. Canadian, Mexican and northern Californian ports are actively expanding as they aim for a share of the rising Pacific container traffic. The port of Oakland, for example, will spend US$1.2bn for port improvements over 10 years, having put out US$14m in March to install two 24-story cranes to lift the ever-growing flood of containers from China and other Asian countries.