In a global survey (Worldbank 2007) five different types of ports have been classified, representative for almost all ports in the world. These are;
- Public service ports. The port authority of public service ports performs the whole range of port related services, in addition of owning all the infrastructure. They are commonly a branch of a government ministry and most of their employees are civil servants. Some ancillary services can be left to private companies. Because of the inefficiencies they are related with, the number of public service ports has declined.
- Tool ports. Similar in every aspect to a public service port, the tool port differs only by the private handling of its cargo operations, albeit the terminal equipment is still owned by the port authority. In several cases, a tool port is a transitional form between a public service port and a landlord port.
- Landlord ports. Represents the most common management model where infrastructure, particularly terminals, are leased to private operating companies with the port authority retaining ownership of the land. The most common form of lease is a concession agreement where a private company is granted a long term lease in exchange of a rent that is commonly a function of the size of the facility as well as the investment required to build, renovate or expand the terminal. The private operator is also responsible to provide terminal equipment so that operating standards are maintained.
- Corporatized ports. Concerns ports that have almost entirely been privatized, with the exception that ownership remains public and often assumed as a majority shareholder. The port authority essentially behaves as a private enterprise. This management model is unique since it is the only one where ownership and control are separated, which lessens “public good” pressures landlord port authority are facing and “shareholder value” pressures private ports are facing.
- Private service ports. The outcome of a complete privatization of the port facility with a mandate that the facilities retain their maritime role. The port authority is entirely privatized with almost all the port functions under private control with the public sector retaining a standard regulatory oversight. Still, public entities can be shareholders and thus gear the port towards strategies that are deemed to be of public interest.
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