THE annual throughput at global container terminals will rise 5.6 per cent over the next five years and reach 840 million TEU by 2018, says London's Drewry Maritime Research.
The increase will push utilisation rates at the terminals to 75 per cent in 2018 from the 68 per cent in 2013, Drewry reported in the 12th edition of its Global Container Terminal Annual Review & Forecast.
The report identified key trends including larger ships, alliances, financial pressure on shipping lines, cooperation among terminal operators, mergers and acquisitions and the automation of terminals.
In discussing the report's findings, senior analyst of ports and terminals, Neil Davidson, said Hong Kong's China Merchant Holdings and France's Bollore are new entrants to Drewry's roster, which this year included 24 global terminal operators. Mr Davidson said with further acquisitions by China Merchants likely.
Merger and acquisition activity has intensified during the last year, as financial institutions show renewed appetite for investment and container lines and investors who bought terminals during the pre-recession boom seek to exit, Mr Davidson said, citing investments by Toronto's Brookfield Asset Management and Japan's MOL.
West Africa, North Africa and greater China will be the fastest growing regions for global terminal operators' investment. East Africa, northwest Europe and the west coast of North America are expected to be the slowest.
An attraction for investors is terminal operators' profitability, which Mr Davidson said has been consistent, even during the downturn in trade that accompanied the 2008-2009 recession. He said global terminal operators' earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation generally range from 20 to 45 per cent of revenue.
Source : HKSG.