Westports sets aside RM800m for expansion

PETALING JAYA: Westports Holdings Bhd has allocated RM800 million this year for the expansion of Container Terminal 8 and Container Terminal 9 (CT 8 and CT9).

Phase 2 of CT8, which consists of the construction of a 300m wharf, is expected to be completed in May this year, while the construction of the 600m wharf of CT9 has begun and is slated for completion by year-end.

“Last year, we invested about RM400 million and we didn’t borrow, we just used internally generated funds. This year, we are doing a lot more than RM400 million, so we will probably need to borrow some,” said CEO Ruben Emir Gnanalingam at a press conference after the company’s AGM yesterday.

He said the focus this year for Westports, which handled a record container volume of 9.95 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2016, will be on maximising efficiency.

“Last year, we were so congested (there were time efficiency issues) because we took up so much volume, efficiency had to be given away. So we want to build back our efficiency,” he added.

Ruben pointed out the recent shipping alliance changes will have a recalibration effect as shipping lines adjust to different routes and alliance partners, and will require a higher container supply capacity.

“Due to the changes, we expect this year to be tougher from a volume perspective and we target to maintain the 2016 volume,” he added.

Westports will serve as the regional transhipment hub for major shipping alliance Ocean Alliance, which consists of CMA CGM, China Cosco Shipping, Orient Overseas Container Line and Evergreen Line.

Westports recorded a capacity utilisation of 87% in 2016, with up to 94% of space being taken up in certain months.

In 2016, Westports registered a net profit of RM636.98 million, 26.2% higher than the previous year’s RM504.86 million.