February 14 2022
The sharp rise in the value of assets in multimodal logistics over the past year – containers, flatcars, ships and port equipment – is forcing a number of industry participants to reduce investments. Other players note that borrowings have doubled in price, which increases the cost of maintaining equipment purchased on lease or on credit. Analysts state that the market is close to overheating.
The market expert told to “Kommersant” that in linear logistics, containers have risen in price 1.8 times, up to $6.7 thousand for a forty-foot container, rail platforms – by 27%, up to 3.7 million rubles for an 80-foot platform, container ships – more than four times. At the same time, he noted, only platforms are actually available in Russia, all other assets are bought abroad. “In terminal and port logistics, asset prices have grown by about 20-30% of their actual value,” he sayd. “All this hinders development, leads to higher rates for logistics services. For our part, we are not ready to buy ports and terminals at such high prices.”
All the market participants interviewed by “Kommersant” observe the increase in price, however, some argue with the thesis about the protective effect of increased prices. “Indeed, the value of assets – ships, railway platforms, containers – is increasing at a double-digit pace, which hinders the development of the logistics market in Russia and ultimately leads to an increase in rates for logistics services,” sayd Maxim Shishkov, “FESCO” Strategy and Development Director.
“The situation with assets last year was tense, and it remains so,” noted Vyacheslav Saraev, General Director of “RZhD Business Active”. In general, we have a large program to increase our assets to ensure obligations to customers, we plan to purchase up to 10,000 containers and about 1,000 platforms this year. We count on already concluded long-term contracts of three or more years with a fixed rate. Of course, we have to start a dialogue with contractors, given the price dynamics in the market.” The increase in the Central Bank’s rate also has a negative impact, added Mr. Saraev.
“Delo Group” noted that it is necessary to separate the global and local equipment markets. Thus, the container market is global, about 40% of the increase in the price of equipment is due to the price of metal, and everything else is a speculative factor associated with the high demand for containers amid the disruption of global supply chains due to the pandemic.
Port equipment, as a rule, is ordered under long-term contracts, and the speculative factor does not play a significant role, since the implementation period for infrastructure projects is years, not months. According to a representative of “Delo Group”, market participants are facing interruptions in the supply of certain types of equipment, for example, reachstackers (mobile loaders for containers), but they were associated with a global shortage of chips common to the entire mechanical engineering industry.
At the same time, the platform market is local, and all 20% of the growth accounts for the growth in the cost of the metal. One of “Kommersant”’s interlocutors on the market says that a twofold increase in the refinancing rate is a more important factor for the market than a speculative markup, which sharply increases the cost of leasing for operators that do not have their own rolling stock.
There is a feeling that in 2022, after large-scale purchases of the previous year, the market may overheat, said Mikhail Burmistrov, head of “Infoline-Analytics”. There are no prerequisites for logistics equipment to become cheaper, prices, on the contrary, tend to increase, while return on assets has slowed down. According to him, the actual rise in prices is not so fundamental, since it is offset by a steady increase in demand due to an increase in container traffic, especially transit.
A more important problem, Mr. Burmistrov agreed, is the rising cost of borrowing, which makes buying equipment on lease or on credit less attractive. In March 2021, the key rate of the Central Bank of Russia was 4.25%, now it is 9.5%, he recalls, and the growing level of interest rates on leasing and loans is putting pressure on companies’ expenses. On February 11, the head of the Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, did not rule out the possibility of raising the key rate to a two-digit level this year.