Although Hapag-Lloyd has announced improved results for 2018, the leader of the Opposition FDP party in the Hamburg Parliament, Michael Kruse, is calling on the Hamburg government to sell its 13.86% stake in the carrier
Group net result increased to €46M 2018, up by €13M on 2017, while EBITDA rose to €1.138B compared to €1.055B. EBIT went up to €443M from €411M. Both these returns were at the upper end of the ranges forecast for the 2018 full financial year
“The market environment in 2018 was certainly not easy," said Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd. "In the first half of the year, freight rates were below our expectations and bunker prices and costs increased during the year.
"In the second half of the year, however, these effects were partially offset as we benefitted from higher global transport volumes, better freight rates and improvements on the cost side. All in all, we are satisfied with the financial results for 2018.”
Revenues increased by 15 % in 2018 to €11.5B, in particular due to the merger with UASC and the associated 21% increase in transport volume, to 11.9M TEU Transport expenses were primarily driven by strong volume growth and a significantly higher average bunker consumption price of US$421 /tonne (2017: US$318 /tonne), increasing by 18 %, to €9.4B. At US$1,044/TEU, the average freight rate for the year as a whole was below the prior-year level (2017: US$1,060/TEU), with a better Q4 at US$1,079/TEU (Q4-17: US$1,038/TEU).
On a pro forma basis and when compared to the combined business of Hapag-Lloyd and UASC for the full year 2017, transport volume was up 6 % and average freight rate was up by 2 %.
Habben Jansen told the AGM in Hamburg that a lot is being talked about the shipping crisis, but "we see that the shipping markets are getting back to normal."
The problems concern the dividend for the year, just €0.15 per share compared to €0.57 in 2017. The market recovered quickly from this shock, but not the city of Hamburg, which is getting just €3.65 for its 13.86% stake (24.36M shares), but had been budgeting for €15M.
The shares are held through HGV Hamburger Gesellschaft für Vermögens- und Beteiligungsmanagement mbH, the holding company of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
"It’s time for a Hexit - the exit of the city of Hamburg from Hapag-Lloyd," Michael Kruse told Mayor Dr Peter Tschentscher.
Kruse applauded the line’s decision to use the savings on the dividend to reduce debts, but accused Finance Senator Andreas Dressel, part of the governing SDP/Green Party coalition, of being naïve in anticipating a €15M pay-out and thus compromising the city’s finances.