Interim Statement January – March 2024


Angela Titzrath

Chief Executive Officer

Dear shareholders,

As 2024 gets under way, we at HHLA are charting a course through far-reaching changes and an environment marked by a series of ongoing crises – war in Ukraine, escalating violence in the Middle East and rising geopolitical tensions. These developments are adversely impacting economic growth to a degree not witnessed for many years. At the same time, inflation and interest rates are at comparatively high levels, making economic recovery even more difficult. While current economic forecasts indicate the first signs of stabilisation, not all countries are benefiting equally. In fact, most economic forecasts for Germany in 2024 have been downgraded, further dampening the outlook for the remainder of the year.

While we continue to work hard on our contribution to the transport and energy transition, shifting more goods to eco-friendly rail and investing more in the modernisation of our terminals, renewed supply chain disruptions significantly impeded progress in the early part of the year. The military conflict in the Red Sea, for example, led to major shipping delays and cancellations as vessels were mostly rerouted around the southern tip of Africa and therefore arrived later in European ports. In January, this led to delayed calls at our Hamburg terminals. Owing to catch-up effects in February and March, container throughput was up moderately on the prior-year level. Against this backdrop, and given the temporary rise in storage capacity utilisation at the container terminals, the operating result of the Container segment made good progress. With regard to HHLA’s hinterland traffic, however, supply chain disruptions led to a significant year-on-year decline in transport volumes.

Once again, we were called upon to react flexibly to these volatile fluctuations. HHLA’s resilience and close cooperation with its customers and partners have been decisive factors in overcoming the upheavals in logistics processes as effectively as possible.

A broad-based, independent network of seaport and inland terminals across Europe is becoming ever more important. At HHLA, we are steadily expanding this competitive advantage.

Angela Titzrath, Chief Executive Officer

In the first quarter, we continued to strengthen these capabilities within the context of the takeover bid by the shipping company MSC. HHLA is currently working with MSC and the City of Hamburg to finalise a business combination agreement. At the time of submitting the reasoned statement, key commitments had already been reached in a preliminary agreement – these include € 450 million of additional capital, significant commitments regarding the workforce, and a commitment to uphold the neutrality of the business model, as well as our strategy and investment planning. Subject to conditions precedent, the transaction will be completed in the course of 2024. At the time of preparing this report, not all conditions (such as approval of the plans by the Hamburg Parliament) had yet been met.

Despite the challenging macroeconomic conditions and uncertainty in the sector, HHLA continues to drive its future-oriented transformation. For example, the company is pressing ahead with its transformation and modernisation programme at the Hamburg container terminals. The Burchardkai terminal is currently being converted to automated horizontal transport. This represents a significant step towards automation and climate neutrality at Germany’s largest container terminal. Moreover, the passify app – developed by HHLA Next – was also successfully launched in January. The app enables trucks to access our terminals more safely and efficiently. And our subsidiary HHLA Sky has added an innovative drone control centre for Germany’s first commercial scheduled air operations of a transport drone.

In the first quarter, our rail subsidiary Metrans successfully acquired a 100 per cent stake in the Croatian company Adria Rail. As a result, it now offers further rail connections to South-Eastern Europe. HHLA’s business operations and value creation activities now form a comprehensive and independent network between our seaport and inland terminals throughout Europe. This is a decisive competitive advantage, which we are steadily expanding.

HHLA sees key growth and earnings potential in this international alignment and our cross-border investments. After all, it is not just the largest ports in terms of container throughput that have the brightest future, but those ports with the strongest network, the best connections and the most sustainable alignment.


Angela Titzrath
Chairwoman of the Executive Board