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Asciano stays on even keel with new container contract

ASCIANO appears to have halted the slide in the loss of market share to DP World, securing a crucial five-year contract with Danish shipping company Maersk Line.

ASCIANO appears to have halted the slide in the loss of market share to DP World, securing a crucial five-year contract with Danish shipping company Maersk Line.

Under the existing contract, Asciano's Patrick offshot moves approximately 503,000 containers a year and the new deal, which is effective immediately, adds an extra 190,000 containers per annum.

"The successful execution of this contract with Maersk Line is a significant achievement for our business and it's a testament to the strength of Patrick's Container Terminal operations," Asciano's chief executive, John Mullen said.

The announcement of the deal comes as Asciano is due to release the findings of a company-wide review into its operations next month.

Austock analyst, Andrew Chambers, said the new contract means Asciano is now less likely to divest its port operations.

"Clearly, winning a contract from a major customer means they won't be rushing to sell or divest its shipping arm just yet but it will become clearer once the company-wide review is released in a month or so," Mr Chambers said.

"It's likely they will look to improve operations rather than sell off the business now that there appears to be a gain in market share," he said.

Mr Mullen said in February that he was open to selling poor performing assets, raising questions about Asciano's intention to sell-off it container ports operation.

Asciano's shares yesterday rallied 4.63 per cent to close 7.5? up at $1.70.

"The increase in container movement is modest but in itself positive," Mr Chambers said.

"The signal it sends to the market is more important, that Asciano is able to win back some of the market share it had been losing to DP World in the past two years."


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