Moody’s Investors Service today said a host of factors such as lacklustre global growth and high capital expenditure commitments are testing resilience of Asian port operators.
“While the rated port operators in Asia have scope for cost cuts and are generally supported by their dominant market position, their resilience is being tested by these challenging operating conditions,” Moody’s Vice President and Senior Analyst Ray Tay said in a statement.
The port operators in the region are grappling with slowing or negative growth in cargo volumes due to China’s (Aa3 negative) slowdown, sluggish growth in Europe, and persistently weak commodity prices, the statement said.
“The port operators also have substantial capex commitments as they seek to cater to ever-larger ships entering service, while overcapacity in the liner industry is making it harder for ports to pass on these capex costs to their customers,” Tay added.
Across Asia, Moody’s said transshipment ports where containers are reloaded onto new vessels — such as PSA Corporation Limited (Aa1 stable) and Hutchison Port Holdings Trust (Baa1 stable) are more affected than gateway ports where containers reach their final destination–such as Shanghai International Port (Group) Co, Ltd (A1 stable) and Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (Baa3 negative).
This is because transshipment ports are more subject to competitive pressure, whereas gateway ports benefit from innate demand as they serve regions with major populations and industrial centers.