Port facilities firm APM sees opportunities to grow faster than the broader market, its chief financial officer said.
APM aims to expand its business also with shippers other than Maersk Line after it lost some market share in 2010 by selling minority stakes and through competition from new ports.
“We continue to see good growth opportunities in the ports industry, and we believe we have capabilities to be deployed that will increase our market share in the coming years, though market share is not a goal in its own right,” APM Terminals CFO Christian Laursen told Reuters in an interview.
This year APM has sold stakes in ports in Le Havre in France, Zeebrugge in Belgium, Virginia in the United States and in Shanghai in China. It has bought assets in Brazil, Liberia and listed its Indian joint venture in Gujarat Pipavav .
Investments in emerging markets should continue to grow, Laursen said as the client base—the top-20 global shipping lines—is shifting focus towards trade lanes into Brazil, Chile, Africa and the booming intra-Asia market.
“With large vessels coming into the market in 2012 we’ll see more carriers trying to deploy on these lanes,” said Chief Commercial officer Richard Mitchell, also in the interview.
Mitchell said APM Terminals expects big lines to shift capacity away from the major Asia-Europe and Trans-Pacific trade lanes to call more in ports of Africa and South America.
The increased focus on emerging markets has raised clients’ worries about bottlenecks between ports and inland infrastructure and consumer markets.
Laursen said APM would use it’s Container Inland Services unit, which includes trucking and rail services taken over from Maersk Line last year, to help overcome such bottlenecks.
“There is a need for better infrastructure in some of the countries we operate in, and this is something we want to develop and offer, Laursen said. He said Container Inland Services would turn profitable next year though opportunities for these services would tend to fall in emerging markets.
Last year, APM Terminals handled 12.3 percent of all cargo going through container shipping ports, and it ranks as among the world’s top-4 port operators, along with Singapore’s PSA, Dubai’s DP World and Hutchinson Whampoa’s ports arm Hutchinson Port Holdings.
APM is the third-largest unit in the Maersk conglomerate after Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company, and the petroleum unit Maersk Oil.
Maersk Line chief Eivind Kolding told Reuters in Seoul that the container shipping industry could grow by 7 to 8 percent next year—higher than a 6 percent forecast given by A.P. Moller-Maersk group CEO Nils Andersen.
APM Terminals’ net profits rose in the nine months to end-September to $668 million from $340 million a year earlier, Maersk reported. (Reuters)