Shanghai port may raise rates

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 January, 2007, 12:00am

Analysts forecast higher charges as profit rises 36pc on throughput growth

Shanghai International Port Group, the operator of China's busiest port, is expected to raise handling charges as throughput is likely to grow 20 per cent this year, analysts said.

The expectation came as the company, which completed the listing of the entire group in October, said net profit rose 36 per cent on the back of 20 per cent throughput growth.

About 21.7 million teu (20-foot equivalent units) were moved at the Shanghai port last year and throughput was expected to hit 26 million teu this year, said Niu Yuming, a port and transport analyst for Hai Tong Securities.

Shanghai is likely to overtake Hong Kong as the world's second-busiest port after Singapore given that Hong Kong's port is expected to post low single-digit growth this year from 23.2 million teu last year.

Analysts said the mammoth project at Yangshan port would be the driver for Shanghai's future growth.

'We are bullish on the long-term growth of Yangshan port, given its strategic importance and strong growth potential,' JP Morgan said in a research report. 'We believe Yangshan will solidify Shanghai's status as the container shipping centre in North Asia.'

The first phase of Yangshan port, which opened in December 2005, handled three million teu last year, meeting the target set by the Shanghai municipal government.

Analysts predict the second phase, which started operation last December, will repeat the success of the first phase.

The port operator cut handling charges for transshipment cargo at Yangshan by as much as 50 per cent last year.

'It's hard for Shanghai to raise rates at Yangshan this year since they are focusing on throughput growth,' said a China Merchants Securities analyst.

Ms Niu forecast robust demand would prompt the port to raise handling charges by 10 per cent at the older Weigaoqiao Complex.

'Yangshan is the driving force of Shanghai port and its throughput would surpass four million teu this year from three million teu last year,' Ms Niu said, adding that the second phase would add one million teu throughput to the port.

Yangshan port's growth came at the expense of South Korea's Pusan Port which also hopes to position itself as North Asia's transshipment hub. The Pusan Port Authority handled 11 million teu last year, up 5 per cent from 11.8 teu in 2005.

Net profit of Shanghai International Port Group grew to 2.95 billion yuan last year from 2.17 billion yuan in 2005.

Turnover rose to 12.6 billion yuan from 4.7 billion yuan. However, because of the inclusion of the entire group's assets into the listed unit last year, the company said the figures were not comparable.

The stock closed at 7.96 yuan yesterday from its debut price of 3.67 yuan in October last year.