DUBAI, April 23 (Reuters) - The timing of a trade recovery from the economic crisis caused by the new coronavirus pandemic is uncertain, global ports operator DP World warned on Thursday.
The Dubai state-controlled company just last month said it was seeing demand bounce back as Chinese factories restarted, though the global spread of the virus has since drastically worsened, forcing many industries to a near halt.
“The timing of any recovery is uncertain with trade expected to pick up as and when global economic activity normalizes,” Chief Executive Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said in a bourse statement.
DP World, which is returning to full state ownership, is for now focused on protecting profits and preserving cash flow by limiting costs and managing capital expenditure, he said.
It would also “drive synergies” through integrating recent acquisitions and focus on maintaining its investment grade rating.
DP World handled 17.2 million box containers globally in the first quarter, down 1.7%, while volumes at its flagship Dubai Jebel Ali Port shrank 3.4% to 3.4 million box containers.
“The real impact of covid-19 will be seen from 2Q2020 onwards,” bin Sulayem said, warning global trade and container volumes had been forecast by industry specialists to fall this year. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)