The morale in the shipping industry has fallen to the lowest level in the past six years, according to the Way Ahead Transport survey by Norton Rose Fulbright law firm.
The battered optimism has been attributed to a fleet overcapacity in the shipping industry at a time of recorded downturn in emerging markets in Asia coupled with ongoing turmoil in Greece which is threatening the Euro zone.
The survey shows that merely 33% of respondents see the current market conditions as positive, a steep fall from 69% recorded in 2014.
“We have this huge overcapacity but a lot of shipowners are still going out and ordering ships,” Harry Theochari, the firm’s global head of transport, is cited by Bloomberg as saying.
The survey shows that mergers and acquisitions along with joint ventures and pooling deals are to be expected in the next year as market players eye capital opportunities.
Theochari estimates that consolidation, driven by both distress and the on-going corporatisation of the industry, is the natural next step for shipping businesses.
The survey findings correspond to those released last week by shipping adviser Moore Stephens, saying that the overall confidence levels in the shipping industry fell during the three months to May 2015 to a level equal to the lowest rating recorded in the past seven years.
The low confidence levels stem from low freight rates and overtonnaging, with continuing doubts about private equity funding.
It is difficult to see when an upturn in fortunes will happen but it won’t be in the short term. There are still many vessels on the order books that were commissioned in better economic times.
The future looks bleak for the industry.