Chinese influence overhyped, says Drewry

Piraeus Container Terminal Piraeus Container Terminal. Image: COSCO

Global expansion and influence by Chinese port companies is not as significant as the hype that surrounds it, a maritime consultancy has said.

Continued media coverage has ensured Chinese port players remain a major port sector topic, but their growth figures have had less of an impact than the scrutiny that fuels interest in their movements, suggests Drewry.

Speaking during Drewry's latest ports and terminals market briefing, Neil Davidson, senior analyst, port and terminals, said that data showed that Chinese operators have gained their strongest market shares in Europe and central America, but haven't made significant progress in South America or Asia.

"It's not easy to find the right opportunities," Mr Davidson said, adding Chinese companies are paying a premium but are competing with other operators. "There have been some major acquisitions but the global container market is a big one."

Looking at the Belt and Road initiative, he observed that the focus is now more on domestic consolidation due to perceived disorganisation in the country's ports market.

China Cosco Shipping and CMP have recorded average equity teu growth rates of 11% and 9% per annum since 2013. This is largely due to organic growth and M&A activity. Hutchinson has fared less well, seeing its volumes plateau in recent years due to its Hong Kong base.

Slow growth continues

Overall in the market, this is the sixth consecutive quarter of slower growth and port sector trading is at its lowest P/E valuation in five years.

However, there are new port projects being  developed and these have a strong focus on logistics and landside distribution.

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