International port operator DP World reached a deal Thursday with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to pour an additional US$4.5 billion into their joint venture of ports and terminals.

The new capital signals a major push to expand and brings the total amount invested by one of the world’s largest port operators and the Caisse to US$8.2 billion.

It also comes as DP World, grappling with an economic downturn worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, delists itself from trading to become a fully private, government-owned firm.

DP World and the Caisse agreed in 2016 to invest in 10 port terminals across the world. DP World said the new agreement would “broaden its footprint” in areas where it already operates and allow it to shop for ports and terminals in Europe and Asia Pacific. DP World has a 55 per cent share in the fund, with the Caisse holding the remaining 45 per cent.

DP World runs operations as far east as Brisbane, Australia, and as far west as Prince Rupert, Canada. The company has expanded aggressively into East Africa, helping the Emirati government wield influence farther afield.

But with the coronavirus pandemic shutting borders and disrupting global supply chains, DP World’s profits fell 56 per cent during the first half of the year. Months before, DP World started delisting from the Dubai stock exchange, returning the company to full state-ownership to help the Dubai government’s investment company repay more than $5 billion to banks.

DP World ultimately will be held by a wholly owned subsidiary of Dubai World, a government investment company.

As countries around the world reopen for business, representatives from DP World and the Caisse said they remain cautiously optimistic about the venture.

“Even during a uniquely challenging period the ports sector has demonstrated a fair degree of resilience,” said Emmanuel Jaclot, the Caisse’s executive vice-president and head of infrastructure.