Container lessors expand their market share
Container lessors expanded their fleets by 7.3 percent in 2013 and now control 46 percent of the global container fleet, up from 40 percent in 2009, according to the London-based consulting firm Drewry.
In contrast, shipping lines and other transport operators only grew their fleets by 2 percent last year.
Drewry said it expects this trend to continue.
“This is because the changed financial climate has left the container shipping industry heavily in debt and unable to easily access capital for investment. Carriers have been forced to turn to the leasing sector to renew their container equipment fleets,” said Andrew Foxcroft, who prepared Drewry's recently published annual Container Leasing report.
Drewry said this contrasts with the preceding five years (2004-08), when operators’ fleet growth outpaced that of the lessors.
“Purchase of used equipment from cash-strapped shipping lines, by way of sale and lease-back, also helped propel the leasing sector,” added Foxcroft. “This action, together with operators’ more limited investment in new equipment, explains why shipping lines’ more recent rate of fleet growth has been so small.”
Drewry estimated that the leased reefer fleet doubled in the four years to 2013 and grew its
share of the overall fleet from 30 percent to 40 percent. "Of the various container equipment categories, lessors appear to be gaining most ground with reefers," it said.
Drewry added, however, that rental cash returns from the lease of new equipment fell to a new low in 2013.
“Returns are now lower than they were in 2009,” noted Foxcroft. “The recent rate erosion has been due to the expansionist antics of top leasing firms, most of which are still chasing market share growth in order to maintain investor interest and draw in further capital funding for investment.”
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