Slowing Trade

Feb 17, 2009 (LBO) – A container terminal that is one of the main money-spinners for Sri Lanka’s John Keells Holdings (JKH) has seen a fall in volumes owing to the global economic crisis, brokers and shipping analysts said. But LMS lost a tank farm and an effective monopoly in fuel supply in Colombo port last year when the island’s supreme court ruled them as having been acquired illegally.

“We believe the margins of SAGT and LMS will come under pressure with the pressure mounting on international trading activities with the global recession,” Lanka Securities said.

The fall in box volumes at SAGT comes after months of record growth with the terminal exceeding its original design limits owing to highly efficient operations and modern equipment.

JKH transportation business profits almost halved to 343 million rupees in the December 2008 quarter and to 1.1 billion rupees in the nine months ending December 31, 2008 compared with the same periods a year ago.

Container volumes handled by South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) in Colombo port fell almost 12 percent in January 2009 to 122,095 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) from a year ago, the second consecutive monthly fall.

The slowdown is expected to