German government approves Chinese company COSCO taking minority stake in Hamburg container terminal

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BERLIN (AP) — Germany gave final approval Wednesday for a Chinese company to take a significant minority stake in the operator of a container terminal at the Hamburg port, following concerns that a larger buy-in might pose a national security risk.

The government said it would stick to a compromise agreed to last year barring COSCO Shipping from acquiring more than than 24.99% of the Tollerort terminal of Hamburg port logistics company HHLA.

Two junior partners in Chancellor Olaf Scholz's governing coalition — the Greens party and the Free Democrats — demanded the cap last year, warning that a larger stake could give China undue control over Germany’s critical infrastructure.

HHLA said the approval would allow it to become a preferred handling location for COSCO. About 30% of the goods handled in the Port of Hamburg already come from China or go to China, it said, adding that the transaction would be finalized soon.

COSCO also holds stakes in several other European ports, including Greece’s main port of Piraeus.