Nearly Docked

July 8, 2010 (LBO) – A deal to build a container terminal in an expanded Colombo port will be awarded to a China – Sri Lanka consortium within ‘two to three weeks’ Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundera said. Sri Lanka’s listed Aitken Spence and China Merchant Holdings, a state-run port operator, were the only bidder for the terminal concession in July 2009 when the world was reeling from an economic slump and lower shipping traffic.

“Right now we are about to issue an LOI (letter of intent) on the development for Colombo port,” Jayasundera told an economic forum organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.

“The concession agreement has been finalized.”

Sri Lanka Ports Authority has been haggling with the sole bidder to raise royalties paid under the concession agreement for the last year.

A team from China Merchant Holdings is now in the country and awaiting legal clearance of the concession agreement, sources close to the deal said.

Jayasundera told LBO the deal is likely to be awarded within two to three weeks.

Analysts say the terminal is likely to cost around 500 million US dollars in debt and equity. The concession agreement setting out the terms under which a