Port of Tauranga, has today announced a "strategic alliance" with PrimePort Timaru.
For more than $21 million, Port of Tauranga has agreed to obtain a 50 per cent shareholding in PrimePort, excluding its investment properties; lease PrimePort's container terminal for up to 35 years and acquire the container terminal operating assets and set up a new Port of Tauranga wholly owned subsidiary, Timaru Container Terminal Limited, to operate the terminal.
The agreement is subject to the successful outcome of the Timaru District Council s public consultation process.
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said Port of Tauranga continued to invest in becoming New Zealand's hub port.
"We see opportunities to grow PrimePort Timaru as a marshalling point for South Island cargo.
"The alliance with PrimePort will allow South Island exporters and importers to benefit from the large number of international services that call at Tauranga, share the significant freight savings that will come with the arrival in New Zealand of the next generation of large ships and benefit from Port of Tauranga's container terminal expertise and world class productivity.
"Port of Tauranga has the financial strength, location and transport connections to be New Zealand's hub port. Not only can Tauranga Container Terminal accommodate large ships, with our significant land holdings we have the potential to continue to expand at a lower cost than all other New Zealand ports."
PrimePort chairman Roger Gower said the alliance with Port of Tauranga positions PrimePort well for the future for the movement of both bulk and container cargoes.
"We expect this alliance to hasten the consolidation of freight routes in New Zealand by facilitating a more extensive schedule of coastal shipping and rail. It will allow for the redevelopment of Timaru port and the transport infrastructure in the region and the development of flexible and cost-effective routes to and from international markets for South Island exporters and importers.
"Over the last twenty years, Port of Tauranga has grown to become New Zealand's largest and most efficient container terminal. We believe it is best placed to assist PrimePort to achieve its potential in the South Island. We are delighted with the alliance."
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said Port of Tauranga and PrimePort shared many customer relationships.
"PrimePort is located in the heart of one of the country s leading primary production regions, while 75 per cent of the South Island s population is located within a 200km radius of its gates.
"PrimePort is ideally positioned to tranship more South Island cargo across Port of Tauranga s container terminal. It also has the capacity to grow. In 2008, PrimePort was handling 80,000 TEU a year. However this number has declined as shipping lines have rationalised port calls in New Zealand.
"Port of Tauranga offers greater flexibility and choice to exporters and importers with more than fifteen international services calling at Tauranga Container Terminal.
"We are looking forward to working with PrimePort to develop opportunities to ship coastally and realise the significant economic benefits that the next generation of ships offer the national economy."