March 11, 2020 / 7:03 AM / in 17 days

Dubai's DP World sees demand rebound as Chinese factories restart

DUBAI (Reuters) - Global port operator DP World DPW.DI has seen demand bounce back in recent weeks as Chinese factories have restarted, providing a glimmer of hope in a business world gripped by fears about the spread of the new coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: Terminal tractors line up at DP World's Terminal 2 at Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 27, 2018. REUTERS/ Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

The COVID-19 virus, which emerged in China late last year, shut cities and factories across the country for weeks, disrupting shipments and global supply chains.

It has since spread around the world, claiming more than 4,000 lives and sending markets into a tailspin. But it has abated in China, and the comments from DP World could raise hopes over a broader “V-shaped” recovery from the crisis.

DP World, which operates ports from Hong Kong to Dakar, said the shutdown in China hit demand, but in recent weeks it had bounced back.

“We haven’t seen any significant impact (overall) of COVID-19, however, it remains a cause of concern”, finance chief Yuvraj Narayan said on a phone call with reporters on Wednesday.

“We will have a more clear picture on impact probably through the middle of April, if there is any.”

The Dubai state-controlled firm, one of the world’s biggest port operators, reported an 8.3% fall in 2019 profit.

It earned $1.19 billion in profit attributable to owners after separately disclosed items, compared with $1.30 billion in 2018, it said in a filing. Revenue jumped 36.1% to $7.7 billion.

It warned, in the filing, of risks to the near-term industry outlook as the coronavirus outbreak disrupts trade.

The port operator handled 71.2 million box containers in 2019, flat compared with the previous year. Volumes at its flagship Jebel Ali port in Dubai fell 5.6%.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Additional reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by Mark Potter

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