Drewry upbeat on box port prospects

Neil Davidson: “The Chinese players are more comfortable with risk than the established international operators right now Neil Davidson: “The Chinese players are more comfortable with risk than the established international operators right now"

Although the outlook for container demand growth is now more optimistic with Chinese players aggressively hitting the acquisition trail, everyone one else is being a little more cautious.

That is according to the Global Container Terminal Operators Annual Report 2017, by global shipping consultancy, Drewry.

Neil Davidson, Drewry’s senior analyst for ports and terminals said: “The risk profile for terminal operators has increased and most of the traditional global/international players remain cautious.”

“The Chinese players are more comfortable with risk than the established international operators right now, and have a geo-political strategy rather than a purely financial one. They are snapping up assets and opportunities and have the appetite and financial clout to take many more in the coming years.”

Drewry’s container port demand forecast is more positive than in last year’s report, exhibiting a 4% CAGR and adding a further 152 million teu of port throughput to the global total by 2021.

It said this is a consequence of improved port throughput growth rates in the second half of 2016 and into 2017 and a more positive general global economic outlook.

That said, there remain numerous risks and uncertainties at present, including tensions in the Middle East and Korean peninsula, the protectionist and unpredictable stance of the US administration and the impact of Brexit.

But this isn’t stopping the Chinese. Around US$3.1 billion worth of deals have been struck so far in 2017, driven by companies such as Cosco Shipping Ports and China Merchants Ports.

Cosco Shipping Ports has moved up Drewry’s operator league table as a result of the merger of Cosco and China Shipping and will move up further due to the acquisition of Noatum and OOCL’s terminals.

The China Cosco Shipping group is projected to add the most capacity of any of the global/international terminal operators over the next five years.

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