Maersk expects only modest growth for container shipping-paper

FRANKFURT Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:17pm EDT

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FRANKFURT Oct 24 (Reuters) - Danish group A.P. Moller-Maersk said it did not expect the problems of overcapacity in container shipping to return to pre-crisis levels with only modest growth expected in the next few years.

Growth rates of around 10 percent, the average before the financial crisis, are a thing of the past, daily Hamburger Abendblatt reported Soron Skou telling an industry association in Hamburg.

"We expect an average of 5 to 7 percent growth in transportation volumes in the near-term," he said. "We must learn to live with overcapacities."

The oil and shipping group said earlier this month it would cut investments in its container shipping unit Maersk Line following low demand for its core Asia to Europe trade.

Ship owners are struggling with an oversupply of vessels, high bunker fuel prices and world economic turmoil, forcing banks to pull back from shipping finance amid a four-year-long downturn that is likely to extend well into 2013.

France's Societe Generale, Germany's Commerzbank and HSH Nordbank AG are among the financial institutions that have reduced their exposure to the shipping industry, selling significant portions of their maritime portfolios. (Reporting By Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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