GLOBAL container port demand is anticipated by Drewry to rise by less than three per cent annually over the next five years, with projections softened mainly due to the slowdown in China's exports. Bright spots are the Middle East and South Asia and the potential recovery of Russia.
In response, terminal operators and investors have been urgently reviewing capacity expansion plans, according to Drewry's Global Container Terminal Operators Annual Review and Forecast 2016.
Many projects within the five-year forecast horizon are already too far advanced to change significantly, but those scheduled to appear later in the period are subject to reconsideration in terms of timing and scale.
For terminal operators, the focus is switching from greenfield developments to M&A activity, with a number of major deals already in the pipeline and more likely to come.
APM Terminals has acquired Grup TCB, CMA CGM bought APL, and Yilport is taking over Tertir. Three Chinese companies - China Merchants Port Holdings, Cosco and China Shipping (the latter two now merged) - have a strong appetite and significant activity in terms of expansion through buying existing businesses.
Drewry's senior analyst for ports and terminals, Neil Davidson, said: "A natural response to the increasing size of liner alliances is for terminal operators to look to consolidate terminal ownership in parallel."
He noted that many of the established international players have become more cautious because they are concerned that returns may be less than what they are used to.
"But on the other hand there are several expansion-minded players like the Chinese operators and Yilport Holdings whose top strategic priority is to acquire more assets," said Mr Davidson.
Source : HKSG.