Maersk Line Buys German Container Shipper Hamburg Süd
The deal will result in a combined fleet of 741 container vessels
Maersk Line, the container shipping unit of Danish conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, has agreed to buy German shipping line Hamburg Süd, boosting its presence on North-South shipping routes, increasing market share and cutting the average age of its fleet.
Maersk Line is the world’s largest container shipper, moving over 15% of global seaborne freight, and has been battling freight rates well-below sustainable levels for the past two years. It recently announced its intention to grow market share both organically and through acquisitions.
“The acquisition of Hamburg Süd is in line with our growth strategy and will increase the volumes of both Maersk Line and APM Terminals”, said Maersk Group Chief Executive Søren Skou.
The shipping downturn has prompted a rare wave of consolidation among the industry’s top 20 operators and pushed a handful of companies out of business. France’s CMA CGM, the industry’s third-biggest player, last year bought Singapore’s Neptune Orient Lines for $2.4 billion and Japan’s three largest shipping companies said in October they would merge their container operations. These pairings have left Hamburg Süd and Israel’s Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. the only two liners left without a partner. Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co. filed for bankruptcy protection in August and Maersk will be chartering six of Hanjin’s biggest ships, but Thursday’s deal is its first full-scale acquisition since 2005 when it bought P&O Nedlloyd.
Hamburg Süd is the world’s seventh-biggest container operator in terms of capacity and is part of the Oetker Group, a family-owned German conglomerate involved in shipping, banking, food and beverages. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Maersk was interested in buying the company. Hamburg Süd operates 130 container vessels with a container capacity of 625,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. It has 5,960 employees in over 250 offices and posted turnover of $6.73 billion in 2015. Following the deal, Maersk Line will increase its global capacity share to 18.6% from 15.7% and the combined fleet will consist of 741 container vessels with an average age of 8.7 years, down from Maersk’s current 9.2 years. Financial details of the acquisition weren’t disclosed and the company said it wasn’t expected to complete until regulatory approvals were obtained toward the end of 2017.
The deal will have no financial impact in 2016, the company added.