REFILE-UPDATE 1-S.Africa, China's Chery reach multibillion dollar port, ship deal

Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:23am EDT

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(Refiles to fix typo in healdine)

DURBAN, South Africa, March 27 (Reuters) - South Africa has reached a deal valued at several billion dollars to build and repair ships at its Richards Bay port with China's Chery Holdings, affiliated with the automaker, according to documents obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

The final terms of the deal were being worked out at a meeting of the leaders of the BRICS emerging market powers in the South African coastal city of Durban, a senior South African government official said.

Other partners include South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation, the China Development Bank, the China Africa Development Fund and Imbani Holdings.

The deal is aimed at "developing a completely new shipbuilding and repair facility", the documents said.

South Africa has been pushing to expand the port, which is a major export point for coal, to attract new industry and create jobs in an economy that has seen its unemployment rate stuck at around 25 percent for years.

A day earlier, the China Development Bank agreed to lend South African state rail freight group Transnet up to $5 billion to revamp ageing rail lines, used to carry commodities such as coal and iron ore, a source close to the deal said.

China is South Africa's biggest bilateral trade partner and imports massive quantities of commodities from Africa's largest economy.

The BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are looking to grow African economies and set up a joint development bank at their summit, which ends on Wednesday. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by David Cowell)

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