Greece sold its largest port, the Piraeus Port Authority, to China COSCO Shipping Corporation on Friday, for 368.5 million euro ($418.58 million).
Under the deal, COSCO will buy 51% of Piraeus for 280.5 million euro and the remaining 16% for 88 million euro after five years and once it completes investments of 350 million euro over the next decade.
Greece represents the western maritime terminus of China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road project to create an economic belt connecting China with Central Asia and Europe.
The sale was done under Greece’s 86 billion-euro bailout deal agreed with its euro zone partners in August.
Dockworkers at the port protested the deal by going on strike against what will be the country’s second major privatization since late last year. Fearing they will lose their jobs in the deal, the dockworkers Friday marched in central Athens shutting down the container terminals. Brief scuffles broke between police and some of the protesters
“This is not a concession, it’s a giveaway of property belonging to the Greek people,” Constantinos Tsourakis, a worker at the port, told Reuters. “Why should China be masters of the game at Piraeus and not the Greek state?”
China COSCO Chairman Xu Lirong said at the signing of the deal that COSCO would invest in upgrading infrastructure at the port and that new jobs would be created.
The total value of the COSCO contract is 1.5 billion euros ($1.70 billion), including additional investment, as well as revenues of 410 million euros, dividends and interest Greece is expecting to collect under the 36-year concession deal between Piraeus Port and the government, reported Reuters.
Privatizations, a major element of Greece’s bailouts since 2010, have produced revenue of only 3.5 billion euros so far because of political resistance and bureaucratic hurdles.
COSCO has been operating one of the port’s container terminals since 2009 and is investing 230 million euros to build a second container terminal at the port.