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Hutchison Port Holdings trims first-half distribution to 4.3 HK cents per unit

HUTCHISON Port Holdings Trust's (HPHT) distribution per unit (DPU) fell by about 28.3 per cent to 4.3 HK cents for the six months ended June 30, 2020, from six cents a year ago.

Revenue shrank 11.9 per cent to HK$4.78 billion (S$849.1 million), from HK$5.42 billion in the corresponding period last year, the Li Ka-shing backed container port trust said in a regulatory filing on Monday evening.

This came as the combined container throughput of its terminals at Kwai Tsing in Hong Kong edged down by 2.9 per cent on the year, primarily due to fewer intra-Asia, US and transshipment cargoes. 

Meanwhile, the container throughput of its Yantian terminals at Shenzhen, mainland China was 12.2 per cent lower, weighed down by the decrease in US, Europe Union and empty cargoes.

HPHT said its Hong Kong and mainland China operations were "inevitably affected" by the Covid-19 pandemic, given that Kwai Tsing is a major transshipment hub in the region while Yantian is the premier gateway to China for foreign trade.

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Outbound cargoes to the US and Europe registered a double-digit year-on-year fall in the first half of this year. 

The throughput decline in the first quarter was 4 per cent at the Kwai Tsing operations and 16 per cent at the Yantian terminals. However, there was "encouraging improvement" seen in June, and the second quarter's decline was "significantly less" at 1 per cent for Kwai Tsing and 8 per cent for Yantian, HPHT said.

Net profit declined by 9 per cent to HK$212.4 million, from HK$233.4 million in the first half of last year.

The distribution will be paid out on Sept 25, after books closure on Aug 5.

Manufacturing in China has mostly resumed, and many markets have loosened lockdown and border controls, thus HPHT expects to see a gradual reduction in the negative impact of the pandemic on its volumes.

Last month, the trust said that the declining trend of its distributions to unitholders was due to the repayment of debt, amid the "extremely challenging" global and macroeconomic events.

Units of HPHT gained 0.1 US cent or 1 per cent to close at 10.4 cents on Monday, before the results were released.

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