Hutchison Port, the world's largest container terminal operator, could lose its US$513 million Manta cargo port project.
Hutchison Port, the world's largest container terminal operator, could lose its HK$4 billion (US$513 million) Manta cargo port project in Ecuador after the country's president said the firm could not meet an investment timetable, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday. Ecuador president Rafael Correa said during a weekend radio broadcast that he had "pulled out a yellow card" for Hutchison due to delays in investment. Correa said if Hutchison could not meet its commitments "it will have to leave the country, and you know we are not joking", the newspaper reported. It gave no further details.
However, the newspaper cited Hutchison Port spokesman Anthony Tam as saying the company was "in compliance with the concession agreement and has been working closely with the local authorities to develop modern container-handling facilities" at Manta.
"We have not heard anything about changes to our concession contract," Tam said, adding Hutchison Port was "committed to the long-term development of port infrastructure in Ecuador."
Even if the Ecuador project did not go ahead, it would not have a big impact on Hutchison, which has some 50 ports in 26 countries, the newspaper said.
Hutchison Port agreed in 2006 to develop and manage the port of Manta.
In October, the ports-to-telecoms conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa (0013.HK), owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing, had said it would take a prudent policy on capital spending with a company-wide halt on "uncommitted spending" until June in 2009, and that all investments would require a new look.