Maersk Line’s new partner in massive capacity boost

Maersk Line’s partner in the planned P3 collaboration and the world’s second-largest container carrier, Swiss MSC, has in the last few months surpassed all its rivals to amass the largest orderbook in the market.
Photo: APM Terminals
Photo: APM Terminals

The world’s second-largest container carrier and partner of Maersk Line and CMA CGM in the planned P3 alliance, Swiss MSC, has ordered enough newbuildings in the last two months to surpass both Maersk Line and Evergreen to become the carrier with the largest orderbook, a fact that could trigger counter reactions from competitors.

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According to Alphaliner, this means that MSC is preparing a massive capacity increase that would result in the carrier approaching the size of Maersk Line, and this at a time when the container industry is struggling due to a huge surplus of new ships on routes from Asia to Europe, as well as low rates.

MSC has ordered new ships for a total of 473,000 teu since 2009, including 97,000 teu that have already been delivered, while 376,000 teu will be delivered during the next three years.

Terminal division sale

MSC added significantly to its war chest earlier this year when the carrier sold its 35 percent share of the company’s terminal division for USD 1.93 billion. And MSC is not short of financing for the new ships. Last week, a subsidiary of China International Marine Containers (CIMC) ordered five so-called neo-panamax wide beam ships of 8,800 teu each from New Times Shipyard, at USD 85 million apiece. The ships will be employed on 17-year charter contracts with MSC.

In two months, MSC added 21 ships, corresponding 217,000 teu, to its orderbook, and more orders are underway, which will put further distance between Maersk Line and MSC and the rest of the competition, writes Alphaliner.

Alphaliner: New mega-alliance will stabilize container industry 

The newbuilding orders through China International Marine Containers seem to be aimed at South American routes, as a majority of these ships have large reefer capacities, of 1,000 plugs or more.

The P3 alliance

MSC’s aggressive offensive strategy is contrasted by Maersk Line’s more cautious approach.  MSC’s total capacity will regardless, and according to Alphaliner, reach 2.75 million teu by 2016, compared to Maersk Line’s current capacity and orderbook at a total of 2.97 million teu. Maersk Line has halted all newbuilding activity after having ordered 20 Triple-E ships of 18,000 teu each.

Alphaliner estimates that MSC’s massive fleet expansion could trigger counter reactions from the competitors. The three partners and the three largest carriers in the world who constitute the announced P3 alliance currently control 37 percent of the world’s total container fleet. The P3 alliance is currently awaiting approval from competitive authorities in the EU, the United States, and China, among others. 

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Competitors will have to buy big to match P3

Drewry: P3 alliance monopolizing the two main routes 

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