Investors must wait on DP World dividend payment

IT WILL be up to the DP World board to decide at the end of the year if the company is to present its investors with a dividend to ease the pain of its weakened share price, chief executive Mohammed Sharaf told Lloyd’s List in Sydney yesterday.

Mr Sharaf was speaking as DP World, the world’s fourth-biggest container port operator, revealed that volumes at its ports jumped 21% in the first half-year from a year ago to 13.6m teu.

Jebel Ali and Port Rashid combined had raised throughput 17% to 5.8m.

On a short visit to the company’s major operations in Australia, however, Mr Sharaf acknowledged DP World’s shareholders are suffering.

“As you can see from the results, our focus is on the business and will continue to be on the business,” he said.

“It’s very unfortunate what is happening in the market-place today but as the management, our focus has not shifted.

“We feel for our investors – they are not where they thought they would be. But again, that is the market situation and that is the risk everybody takes when they come to the market.”

DP World was trading at 79 cents on the DIFX after debuting at $1.30 last November.

Focussing on the increase in volumes Mr Sharaf pointed out that they have been driven by terminals in India and Middle East regions. Both these regions, he said, have been benefiting from cargo formerly destined for the US being redirected into markets in India, Middle East and Africa.

In its regional breakdown, the terminals operator recorded throughput rises in the Americas and Australia of 12% to 1.9m teu, Asia Pacific, Indian Subcontinent up 15% to 3m teu and Europe, Africa, Middle East up 26% to 8.7m teu.

Despite coming last, Mr Sharaf was complementary at the 14% throughput rise in Australia.

However, he fired a shot across the bows of policy-makers in the various Australian states, saying a decision on whether the country mandates a third stevedore needed to be made sooner rather than later “so we know where we are going”.

“If the governments want to attract investment, then they need to also make sure that the investors get a fair return on their investment,” Mr Sharaf said.

“We don’t mind competition, we were born in a competitive environment, so we welcome fair competition. We need to be treated fairly between the newcomers and ourselves and on an ongoing basis.