Monday, March 2, 2009

Maersk maintains keen interest in PTP

The AP Moller-Maersk Group, a Danish shipping giant, says it maintains a "keen interest" in the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) in Johor, Malaysia's second largest container port.

It owns 30 per cent of PTP through its port unit APM Terminals, while MMC Corp Bhd holds the rest. MMC has received government nod to talk to foreign parties on the sale of PTP, sources had told Business Times.

MMC wants to sell almost a fifth of PTP to raise funds for expansion.

Maersk did not directly reply to questions on whether it was interested to raise its stake in PTP or if it had approached MMC for this.

"Naturally, we maintain a keen interest in the terminal and in its running efficiently because this is what our customers want, regardless of who eventually takes the stake," Maersk Line country manager Omar Shamsie told Business Times in an e-mail reply.

Sources had told Business Times that interest from foreign companies, including shipping lines, remained strong and that MMC had received about four to five expressions of interest.

One had even offered to buy up to 70 per cent of the port. Large shipping lines, such as Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp, have made their interest known, while Maersk could not be ruled out due to its "pre-emptive rights" as an existing shareholder.

This means that whatever offer MMC makes for its PTP stake to another party, it has to make the same offer to Maersk first.

Although it holds only 30 per cent of PTP, Maersk also manages the operations at the port, which has been important for the global group.

"From a container shipping line point of view, we depend on having efficient terminal operations and that is where PTP serves Maersk Line well today, as our transhipment hub for the Asia-Pacific region," Omar said.

Earlier last month, PTP chief executive officer Captain Ismail Hashim had said that the port was looking for a further RM4 billion in capital expenditure to expand over the next five years.

Some RM2.5 billion was allocated under the first phase of the expansion plans and PTP was looking at RM4 billion more for phase two.

"For further expansion, we have to see as we move along," Ismail had said in an interview with Bernama.

In the wake of the global economic slowdown, Ismail said that PTP was looking at new businesses this year to improve revenue.

"The financial crisis is affecting most shipping lines and they are keen to hear options which can improve their cost structure," he said, adding that PTP was also working aggressively to attract more shipping lines.

Source: Business Times

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