HONG KONG, Apr 30 (Reuters) Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. <0013.HK> is in talks to jointly build a container terminal worth nearly 2 billion yuan (US9 million) in Zhanjiang city in southern China, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
Hutchison, the world's largest container terminal operator, is expected to take up to 40 percent of the project, Hong Kong's pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po newspaper said, quoting an unidentified source at Zhanjiang port.
The paper said Hutchison and Zhanjiang port have yet to finalise a deal but an agreement is expected to sign soon.
Hutchison, controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing, has been investing in Chinese ports from southern Shenzhen and eastern Shanghai to northern Dalian. The company is currently in talks to take a stake in soon-to-be-listed Tianjin Port.
Hutchison could not be reached immediately for comment.
Zhanjiang port, nearly 450 km (280 miles) southwest of Hong Kong in the wealthy province of Guangdong, hopes to attract strategic investors to help build and manage ports, the paper said.
Throughput at Zhanjiang port grew 33 percent year on year to 41 million tonnes last year and aims to reach more than 100 million tonnes by 2010, to become a major port in southern China, the report said.
Hong Kong lost title as world's busiest container port to Singapore earlier last year and has been losing market share to the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen, which offers cheaper services.
(US$=8.0165) REUTERS CS HT1235