Hapag-Lloyd avoids 2021 forecast, citing uncertainty surrounding pandemic

Germany-based container shipper Hapag-Lloyd almost tripled its net result in 2020, helped by lower costs and higher freight rates, but it declined to make any predictions about profit this year, citing uncertainties surrounding the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

Its net result in 2020 was €935m ($1.12bn), up from €373m in 2019. Revenue rose by 3% and freight rates increased by 4%.

Hapag-Lloyd warned of volatility in freight rates and local bottlenecks.

CEO Rolf Habben Jansen predicted that current supply chain bottlenecks would “presumably only abate significantly in the second half of the year.”

Freight rates rose to $1,115 per teu. The company has proposed a dividend for 2020 of €3.50 per share, compared with €1.10 previously.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday March 17th Hapag-Lloyd announced that it had acquired Netherlands-based Nile Dutch Investments BV. NileDutch provides container services from and to West Africa. The company is present in 85 locations across the world and has 16 of its own offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Singapore, China, Angola, Congo and Cameroon.

It has 10 liner services and around 35,000 teu of transport capacity. It connects Europe, Asia and Latin America with West and South Africa.

Jansen said that Africa was “an important strategic growth market for Hapag-Lloyd. The acquisition of NileDutch strengthens our position in West Africa and will be an excellent addition to our existing activities on the continent”.