Maersk sees slight pick up in container traffic next year

Maersk sees slight pick up in container traffic next year
A shift in focus from market share to lowering costs has helped Maersk improve its profit margins. (Reuters)
Updated 15 November 2019

Maersk sees slight pick up in container traffic next year

Maersk sees slight pick up in container traffic next year

COPENHAGEN: Shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk sees scope for a slight pick up in global seaborne container traffic in 2020 compared with this year, with ongoing trade tensions limiting the chances of stronger growth.

Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipper, said on Friday that it expected global container demand to grow by 1-3 percent next after compared with
1-2 percent in 2019.

“The continued weakening of global sentiment, above all in the manufacturing sector, reduces the likelihood of a growth pick-up in 2020,” the company said in
a statement.

Despite headwinds from the US-China trade war, Maersk last month raised its expectations for 2019 profit, prompting its shares to jump more than 7 percent.

The company on Friday published a full set of results for the July-to-September period, reaffirming that it is on track to improve its profit margin albeit on slightly lower revenue.

The pick-up in profitability is driven by capacity management and cost control, with unit costs — the cost of moving a container on global seas — down 3 percent in the third quarter.

“We will continue our focus on profitability and free cash flow in the fourth quarter and into 2020,” CEO Soren Skou said in a statement.

Maersk has in several quarters struggled to keep costs under control amid low freight rates, rising fuel prices and a slowdown in container shipping.

As Maersk shifts its focus from market share to lowering costs, it said it expected underlying growth in its ocean business to be slightly lower this year than average market growth.

Skou has overseen a major shift in Maersk’s strategy, announced in 2016, which has included selling off its oil and gas business to focus on its container and logistics business for customers including Walmart and Nike. 


SAMA calls for more M&A deals in insurance sector

The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has issued a statement encouraging companies in the insurance sector to consider merger and acquisition (M&A) deals. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has issued a statement encouraging companies in the insurance sector to consider merger and acquisition (M&A) deals. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 12 min 10 sec ago

SAMA calls for more M&A deals in insurance sector

The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has issued a statement encouraging companies in the insurance sector to consider merger and acquisition (M&A) deals. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • Through mergers, SAMA said it aims to improve customer service and efficiency, and reduce costs
  • M&As can make sector more competitive and strengthen its financial position, it added

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has issued a statement encouraging companies in the insurance sector to consider merger and acquisition (M&A) deals.

SAMA stressed the sector’s importance to the Saudi economy, and the part it plays in the government’s Financial Sector Development Program.

SAMA cited the merger of Walaa Cooperative Insurance and Metlife AIG ANB Cooperative Insurance, and of Gulf Union National Cooperative Insurance and Al-Ahlia Insurance, as successful examples of such deals and how they helped boost the financial solvency of the companies involved by improving the insurers’ capital.

Research shows that M&As can make the sector more competitive and strengthen its financial position.

Through the M&As, SAMA said it aims to improve customer service and efficiency, and reduce costs.

Last year proved to be “eventful” for M&As in the Middle East and North Africa, in particular the Kingdom, said Bader Alamoudi, senior country officer for JP Morgan Saudi Arabia.

He told Argaam in December that M&A activity was driven by companies looking to streamline costs and boost efficiency and optimization, particularly during periods of prolonged uncertainty.

“As in previous years, the financial sector has been one of the most active in terms of M&A activity in the region during 2020,” he said.

“The consolidation theme has created a ripple effect on other sectors, including energy, real estate etc., where we have started to witness heightened activity. I believe such activity will continue next year as well.”

Also notable were the stimulus packages provided by SAMA, which proved to be an immense source of cash flow that helped ease the payment burden on firms.

Alamoudi told Argaam that he expected the improvement in oil prices to rekindle retail confidence and fuel investment banking activities. “2021 is going to be a very interesting year with lots happening across all lines of business,” he said.