Drewry Maritime Research’s latest Annual Review of Global Container Terminal Operators report shows that while some things have remained the same, others have changed significantly, with more change to come.

Measured by equity TEU, there is no change in the order and ranking of the top five operators. PSA was again the leading operator in terms of equity TEU, ahead of Hutchison (HPH), but by a much reduced margin following the divestment by PSA of its interests in HPH’s Hong Kong terminals. There is now a difference of only just over four million TEUs in Drewry’s assessment of PSA and HPH’s equity TEU throughput. DP World and APM Terminals are closely matched in third and fourth spots, while the COSCO Group’s throughput remains somewhat less than that of the top four players.

The big four global operators collectively accounted for 26.5 per cent of world container port throughput, but this was down slightly on the previous year due to the emergence of other large players, both international and local. Notably this included China Shipping Terminal Development which has entered the Drewry league table for the first time with its interests in 15 terminals in China and the U.S., placing it in 7th position. Also of note is the significant volume of Terminal Investment Limited (TIL), topping 12 million TEUs in 2011 and making it the 6th largest global/international terminal operator. Drewry understands that TIL is not a division of MSC, although clearly it has an important relationship with the line.

The league table remains dynamic as merger and acquisition activity continues in the sector. APM Terminals has just taken a significant stake in Russian operator Global Ports Investments (GPI) for example, in a move which sees APMT extend its global footprint and enter a fast growing market. This US$860-million deal will positively influence APMT’s ranking next year. Meanwhile, speculation continues about the possibility of the terminal portfolios of certain major shipping lines being sold – notably CMA CGM’s Terminal Link.

Drewry’s Neil Davidson, Senior Advisor – Ports, notes: “After a lull in M&A activity in the sector brought about by the global slowdown in 2009, activity levels are building up again and we expect to see more major deals taking place. The ownership and ranking of the world’s major terminal operators may be significantly different in a year’s time”.

Top 10 global/international terminal operators’ equity based throughput, 2011
Operator Million TEUs, and share of world throughput:

1. PSA International: 47.6 million TEUs, 8.1 per cent
2. Hutchison Port Holdings: 43.4 million TEUs, 7.4 per cent
3. DP World: 33.1 million TEUs, 5.6 per cent
4. APM Terminals: 32.0 million TEUs, 5.4 per cent
5. COSCO Group: 15.4 million TEUs, 2.6 per cent
6. Terminal Investment Limited (TIL): 12.1 million TEUs, 2.1 per cent
7. China Shipping Terminal ­Development: 7.8 million TEUs, 1.3 per cent
8. Evergreen: 6.9 million TEUs, 1.2 per cent
9. Eurogate: 6.6 million TEUs, 1.1 per cent
10. HHLA: 6.4 million TEUs, 1.1 per cent

Source: Drewry Maritime Research