Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. would directly hold about 45 percent, not 65 percent, of the phase three of the Yantian container port project in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, a Hutchison official said on Thursday. She added that Hutchison has a majority stake in a foreign entity that would hold a 65 percent stake in the project.
Through the investment entity, Hutchison would hold an "effective 45 percent", the official said.
Officials at Hutchison's China partner Yantian Harbour Group said on Wednesday that China had allowed Hutchison to take a 65 percent stake in the project, while Yantian Harbour would hold the remaining 35 percent.
The official declined to identify the other shareholders of the foreign entity, but local newspapers said they are likely to include China-backed but Hong Kong-incorporated COSCO Pacific, which is engaged in container leasing and port operations.
Chinese port officials said earlier this year that foreign investors - including investors from Hong Kong - were no longer allowed to hold controlling stakes in domestic container ports.
A Yantian Harbor Group official said on Wednesday that Beijing probably approved the deal because Hutchison already holds 50.5 percent of the first two phases of the container port, in which Hutchison and Yantian Harbour Group's subsidiary, Yantian Harbor Co Ltd., had sunk HK$7 billion (US$897 million).
The phase three development reportedly will require a total investment of 5.57 billion yuan (US$673 million) and would have four berths capable of handling 1.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually.