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. 


Swiss authorities ask Lebanon to cooperate on central bank probe

Swiss authorities ask Lebanon to cooperate on central bank probe
Updated 11 min 20 sec ago

Swiss authorities ask Lebanon to cooperate on central bank probe

Swiss authorities ask Lebanon to cooperate on central bank probe
  • The Swiss attorney general's office said it had requested legal assistance from Lebanon in the context of a probe into "aggravated money laundering"

BEIRUT: Swiss authorities have opened an investigation into money transfers by Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salame, a Lebanese government official told Reuters on Tuesday.
Salame denied any wrongdoing.
"Both the prime minister and the president are in the loop" on the inquiry which is also looking into Salameh's brother and assistant, said the government official, who asked to remain anonymous.
The Swiss attorney general's office said it had requested legal assistance from Lebanon in the context of a probe into "aggravated money laundering" and possible embezzlement tied to the Lebanese central bank.
But in responding to questions from Reuters, it did not say whether Salameh was a suspect and declined further comment.
Lebanon's crippled banking system is at the heart of a financial crisis that erupted in late 2019. Banks have since blocked most transfers abroad and cut access to dollar deposits.
The meltdown has crashed the currency, prompted a sovereign default and doomed at least half the population to poverty.
In response to Reuters questions about local media reports of a European inquiry, Lebanese Justice Minister Marie Claude Najm said she had received a request for cooperation from Swiss judicial authorities and submitted it to the public prosecutor. She did not elaborate.
A statement by Salameh dismissed any allegations about transfers by him, his brother or assistant as "fabrications". He threatened to sue anyone who spreads them with harmful intent.
A former Merrill Lynch banker, Salameh has led Lebanon's central bank, Banque du Liban, since 1993. The collapse of Lebanon's financial system shook his reputation as a pillar of stability, as foreign donors demanded a central bank audit and Salameh turned into a focus of anger for protesters last year.