March 20, 2013 8:28 am

Asset sales help lift DP World profits

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DP World©AP

Dubai Ports operator DP World reported a 21 per cent increase in 2012 net profit, as it sold assets and benefited from emerging markets growth.

The government-controlled container terminal operator said last year’s profit came to $555m compared with $459m in 2011, after $249m derived from non-recurring asset sales was stripped out.

DP World, the world’s third-largest ports company, this month announced it was selling its stakes in two Hong Kong container terminals and a logistics centre for $742m, part of its strategy to sell non-core assets and refocus on its strength in emerging markets.

That strategy – which also included the sale of its Australian business – has helped DP World, the star performer of struggling conglomerate Dubai World, outperform other logistics companies since the financial crisis struck.

“We have continued to actively manage our portfolio to maximum advantage, divesting non-core or low-return assets, and repaying debt,” said Sultan Bin Sulayem, DP World’s chairman. Net debt fell to $2.9bn at the end of 2012.

“This has enabled us to move capital into those markets where we see more profitable returns whilst significantly reducing our leverage and strengthening our capital base.”

The company’s trade with emerging markets has, along with tourism and transport, helped buoy Dubai’s economy since its damaging debt crisis in 2009.

The government, which holds an 80 per cent stake in DP World via Dubai World, has been managing to refinance distressed debt and raise new loans as the emirate became a regional haven from Arab spring unrest.

Operating more than 60 terminals, DP World invested $685m in 2012. The company, which has invested $6bn over the past five to six years, plans to spend another $3bn-$4bn in capital expenditure this year and in 2014 as it pushes ahead with expansion plans.

Its high profile London Gateway project is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of this year. DP World will this year also open Embraport in Brazil and a new terminal at its home base in Jebel Ali port.

Gross container volumes were up 2 per cent to 56m 20-foot equivalent units on growth in Africa, the Middle East, South America and Asia. Revenue for the period rose 5 per cent to $3.1bn, the company said.

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