hong kong port sunset

Singapore’s largest container depot operator, EKH, which operates as Eng Kong, has applied for a listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, hoping to raise funds to expand its network in China and South-east Asia.

Founded by brothers-in-law Eddie Li and Paul Ng in 1975, EKH is now majority owned by private equity investment firm Navis Capital Partners, with Li and Ng holding stakes of 7.3% and 6.4%, respectively. It has appointed Alliance Capital Partners to sponsor the listing and submitted a prospectus on Friday.

EKH has 20 depots, in Singapore, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Vietnam, with a total area of 630,000 sq metres and capacity for 93,000 teu. In Singapore, the world’s second-busiest container port, EKH has five depots that can store 23,000 teu.

Its prospectus claims a market share of around 18% in Singapore, with clients including Evergreen, Yang Ming and Seaco.

To tap into Singapore’s new megaport in Tuas, EKH plans to open a mega-depot 7km away, as, by the 2040s, all Singapore’s container handling will be consolidated at Tuas, with capacity expected to reach 65m teu, nearly double that of 2020.

The mega-depot will include  a 36,000 sw metre warehouse and space for storing around 26,000 teu. Construction is expected to commence early next year and will take two years.

EKH’s prospectus said the mega-depot “will solidify our position as a leading container depot operator in Singapore in light of the fact that one of the key barriers in  Singapore’s container depot industry is land constraints; which has led to increasing challenges for  smaller container depot operators to obtain long-term land leases for their operations”.

And EKH has also purchased land near Malaysia’s Port Klang to increase its storage capacity there from 20,000 teu to nearly 24,000.

Its prospectus added: “South-east Asia has become increasingly important in global trade with a general trend of manufacturing shifting to South-east Asia. We believe this would lead to increased container movement, as a result of increased exports, which would generate demand for container depots in the area.”

In 2023, EKH’s revenue fell 3%, to S$155.52m (US$117.82m), while net profit fell 19%, to S$8.37m ($6.34m). Besides container storage, EKH also operates warehouses and container freight stations, offers freight forwarding, sales of new and used containers and box repairs.

In Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, EKH is the authorised service agent for four reefer manufacturers, Carrier Transicold, Daikin, ThermoKing and Star Cool.