Australian shipping lines now rate DP World’s service as better than that of Patrick Ports’ owner Asciano, according to Morgans Australian Shipping Survey.
Morgans’ report on the survey, which claims to capture the views of more than 80% of the shipping lines servicing Australia, said: “In previous surveys, Asciano led its peers by some margin on service perception. No Longer. A majority of shipping lines in this survey rated DP World above Asciano and Hutchison on both productivity and customer service measures.”
Of the survey’s respondents, 53% rated DP World the most productive stevedore in Australia while 60% rated it the most customer-oriented. On the other hand, Asciano retained a slender lead on average score, with a rating of 3.3 out of 5.
Asciano owns terminal operator Patrick which operates terminals in Brisbane, Fremantle (near Perth), Melbourne and Sydney.
The report attributes Patrick’s fall in perceived service levels to instability caused by the introduction of automation, key management personnel changes and uncertainty caused by takeover talks.
Patrick’s terminal in Port Botany has introduced significant automation, including automated straddle carriers, in April 2015.
Asciano is also currently the subject of rival takeover proposals from Canadian infrastructure fund Brookfield and a consortium led by Australian logistics company Qube.
The report commented that Qube’s proposal is more likely to succeed than Brookfields, as Brookfield’s may be hampered by Australia’s competition regulator. If both deals were to collapse, Asciano’s share price would suffer, the report said.
The report predicted that Patrick’s container terminals will grow by around 2% in 2016, slightly higher than the 1.6% they recorded in 2015. Long term, it predicted growth of around 2-3% a year.