Throughput at the Group’s flagship terminal in Singapore declined 13.1% over the previous year but its contribution of 25.1m teu helped Singapore retain its position as the world’s busiest container port for the fifth consecutive year.
The Group’s terminals outside Singapore recorded total throughput of 31.8m teu, 7.1% lower than 2008, the smaller decline being explained by some countries, such as China, being less affected by the global crisis as well as the contribution from new port start-ups in Chennai and Vietnam.
Overall the Group’s revenue dropped 12.7% mirroring the volume decreases, while net profit suffered a comparatively smaller decline of 6.1% as a result of controls on capital expenditure and cost-cutting measures implemented since the end of 2008.
The Annual Report states that despite the challenging conditions, PSA’s balance sheet remains on a firm footing with a gross debt equity ratio of 1.13 times at the end of 2009.
“2009 would be remembered as one of the world’s most difficult years with the near meltdown of the financial markets resulting in a global recession and a plunge in world trade. Like everyone else, PSA was adversely affected,” said Fock Siew Wah, PSA group chairman.
“As we enter the new year, we retain a very cautious outlook and are not sanguine about a swift recover,” he added.
Referring to 2009 being the year of the Bull in the Chinese Zodiac, Eddie Teh, group CEO said that the year had turned out to be “a year of unprecedented hardship and challenges for the port and shipping industries”.
“PSA was not spared as the Group saw its first ever decline in containers handled across its 28 ports worldwide. The last two months of 2009 and the first two months of 2010 showed tentative signs of recovery but all indications point towards a slow and drawn out recovery with different regions rebounding at different rates,” he said.
“The fear remains that a macro-economic storm will be inevitable to clear all the excess global production capacity that was created,” warned Teh.