x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Record Jebel Ali figures a boost for DP World

DP World reported an 11 per cent increase in throughput in the first six months, handling 26.2 million TEUs, of which 6.1 million went through the UAE.

The port at Jebel Ali accounted for 3.1 million TEUs in the second quarter, its highest-ever figure. Charles Crowell / Bloomberg News
The port at Jebel Ali accounted for 3.1 million TEUs in the second quarter, its highest-ever figure. Charles Crowell / Bloomberg News

DP World, the global ports group based in Dubai, turned in a strong trading performance in the first half of this year, boosted by record figures from its Jebel Ali hub.

The group, which is 80 per cent owned by the Dubai Government, reported an 11 per cent increase in "throughput" in the first six months. It handled 26.2 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, the standard industry measurement of volume), of which 6.1 million went through the UAE.

The port at Jebel Ali accounted for 3.1 million TEUs in the second quarter, its highest-ever figure.

"We are particularly pleased to see the UAE achieving another milestone in container handling volumes," said Mohammed Sharaf, the chief executive.

He said the social and political unrest in some other areas in the Middle East where DP World has ports was a minor factor in the UAE's strong performance.

"Business at the other ports in the region is down, but the volumes are not big enough to have a significant effect overall. Whatever happens, if it's good or bad, Jebel Ali will always be there," he said.

Outside the UAE, he said, the performance was driven by strong growth in Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Americas, including new capacity opened in Peru and China.

The second half is usually the stronger trading period for DP World, but Mr Sharaf said there was "some uncertainty around the global economy that was making it difficult to forecast how global trade will develop".

"While this uncertainty is not, as yet, reflected across our portfolio, and with our focus on the more resilient emerging markets, we still expect to deliver full-year results in line with expectations," he added.

Industry experts expect growth of between 5 and 6 per cent in the global container market this year.

DP World shares, quoted on the Nasdaq Dubai market and the London Stock Exchange (LSE), reacted contrarily to the trading figures; they fell 1 per cent to US$12.20 in Dubai but rose 2.66 per cent to 790 pence in London.

Overall, the shares have fallen by about 10 per cent since they were listed on the LSE nearly two months ago. "We're not fairly looked at against our peers. We are the only global operator that's listed on two exchanges," said Mr Sharaf.

On future expansion prospects, he said DP World "continues to look for new opportunities within the emerging markets, and we are looking at many new projects".

He reiterated the company's aim to return one day to the US market. "We're watching the US. When we get the right place at the right time, we'll be there."

DP World was forced to sell US ports at the time of its takeover of P&O in 2006.

fkane@thenational.ae