Drewry has drawn attention to the aggressive acquisition trail of Chinese players in its outlook for global container port demand growth.
The global shipping consultancy has forewarned that major M&A deals are changing the landscape and that more will come, with around $3.1 billion exchanged in M&A deals so far in 2017.
However, in the last year, more than half of the acquisitions by global terminal operators have been made by Chinese players.
The consultancy has moved Cosco Shipping Ports up in its operator league table as a result of the merger of Cosco and China Shipping, with further movement expected in the coming years due to the acquisition of Noatum and OOCL’s terminals.
The China Cosco Shipping group is also projected to add the most capacity of any of the international terminal operators over the next five years.
Neil Davidson, Drewry’s senior analyst for ports and terminals, said: “While there are certainly some encouraging signs for the demand growth outlook, the risk profile for terminal operators has increased and most of the traditional global players remain cautious.
“The exception to this is the Chinese port companies who are pursuing expansion and investment both at home and overseas in an unprecedentedly aggressive manner.”
“The Chinese players are more comfortable with risk than the established international operators right now and have a geopolitical strategy rather than a purely financial one.
“They are snapping up assets and opportunities and have the appetite and financial clout to take much more in the coming years.”
Drewry recently found that container shipping companies are on track to achieve sustainable profitability through oligopolization, as 10 carriers move towards controlling approximately 82% of the world fleet.