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Newly expanded Panama Canal locks to help reduce times from Asia to US east coast. MAERSK Line is to introduce the first containerised round-the-world service in recent times in September, when it will utilise the newly enlarged Panama Canal to deploy 11 8,500 teu vessels. Maersk will transform its TP12 service in to a standalone, round-the-world service that it says will provide “significantly faster” transit times between East Asia and the US east coast. The TP12 service will transit the new Panama Canal locks and call the ports of Newark, Norfolk and Baltimore on the US east coast. On the return leg to Asia, the TP12 will go through the Suez Canal and call the ports of Salalah (Oman), Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Singapore.
“We are changing our TP12 service to provide a better product to shippers in Korea, northern and eastern China. At the same time, we will reduce our CO2 and exhaust gas emissions due to the shorter distance,” said Maersk head of east-west network Klaus Rud Sejling. Maersk is also adding Busan in South Korea to the westbound TP10 service and will connect its TP11 and TP8 services to form a pendulum service that expands the coverage of both services. There will be no changes to the capacity in Maersk’s Asia-US east coast network. Maersk will deploy 11 vessels of 8,500 teu in the new TP12 service and 17 vessels of 8,500 teu in the new TP11/TP8 pendulum service. Taiwan’s Evergreen used to offer round-the-world services but discontinued them in the early years of the last decade.
Source: Lloyd’s List – 21 July 2016
Agreement marks conclusion of debt restructuring programme. HYUNDAI Merchant Marine has confirmed plans to join the 2M alliance of Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co in yet another twist to this unprecedented shake-up of the global container shipping industry. The three lines revealed they were in talks earlier in the month as HMM was completing debt restructuring negotiations. In a statement on Thursday, HMM said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with 2M for providing a joint service to begin from April 2017, after finalising negotiations and approval rocedures in each country.
The MOU signed between the three carriers is a binding agreement in regard to HMM’s entry to the 2M vessel-sharing agreement. By accessing the 2M network, HMM will be able to strengthen its service offering and achieve improved cost competitiveness, the line said. The 2M carriers will benefit from a reinforced service competency in Asia and improved network cover in the transpacific trades. HMM said the announcement marked the successful completion of all conditions set out in the voluntary agreement with creditors from March 2016, and in accordance with the completion of such preconditions, the planned debt-for-equity swap by creditors will be executed as planned.
“Upon completion of said debt-for-equity swap, the financial structure of HMM will be significantly improved and puts HMM in sound position to meet future challenges,” the statement said. A HMM spokesperson added that the line would work on “increasing operational competency in the second half of this year to continue improving profitability of our company”. MSC said in a statement that the addition of HMM to the 2M vessel sharing agreement “will allow us to offer improved services on our transpacific trade”. The expansion of 2M to three lines has fuelled speculation that Maersk could be interested in buying HMM, once it has had a chance to work with the carrier.
Source: Lloyd’s List
Update: UASC and Hapag-Lloyd shareholders still to vote on the deal that would create world’s fifth-biggest box line. HAPAG-Lloyd and United Arab Shipping Co have agreed merger terms in a move that will form the world’s fifth largest container line. News that the deal was going ahead emerged just hours after CMA CGM had confirmed it controlled more than 90% of NOL shares and was close to finalising the $2.4bn takeover of the Singapore line.
In fleet capacity terms, European lines now hold four of the top five positions in the global league table. CMA CGM will close the gap between Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co when it acquires NOL, giving it a combined fleet of 2.4m teu. That compares with Maersk Line’s fleet of almost 3.2m teu, according to Alphaliner, and MSC’s 2.8m teu. Hapag-Lloyd will overtake the former number one carrier Evergreen to move into fifth place with a fleet of 1.5m teu, just behind Cosco whose size was increased when the two Chinese lines merged earlier this year,
The two lines issued a brief statement on Tuesday saying that agreement had been reached on the terms and conditions of a Business Combination Agreement providing for the contribution of all shares in UASC to Hapag-Lloyd. “Today, the Supervisory Board of Hapag-Lloyd has approved the transaction subject to the anchor shareholders of Hapag-Lloyd and UASC agreeing to assume the commitments levied upon them in the BCA,” said Hapag-Lloyd.
However, the conclusion of binding agreements is still subject to the consent of Hapag-Lloyd and UASC shareholders. UASC will hold an extraordinary general meeting to grant such consent which will be held in Dubai on June 29. UASC is owned by a number of Arab states, with Qatar having a majority holding. Hapag-Lloyd shareholders are expected to vote on the deal before the end of August after the BCA has been signed. That is likely to be in the next two or three weeks. But the deal will still need regulatory approval before it can be finalised. In the meantime, thresholds will be set that will trigger compensation from either side should there be a material change of circumstances by one of the parties.
Hapag-Lloyd will remain the brand of the line that has gone from being 100% German-owned to one that willl soon have Arab as well as Chilean shareholders. CSAV currently owns just over 31% of Hapag-Lloyd while the City of Hamburg has a 20% stake, as does German billionaire Klaus-Michael Kuhne. Tui owns 12% and other shareholders who invested in last year’s IPO have around 15% of the equity. While CMA CGM’s takeover of NOL was, to some extent, expected after the Singapore line was put up for sale by Singapore sovereign fund Temasek, news that Hapag-Lloyd and UASC were in talks came as a shock.
The pair announced in April that UASC could become a Hapag-Lloyd shareholder. They said than that the parties were basing their discussions on a relative valuation of the two businesses at 72% for Hapag-Lloyd and 28% for UASC. Hapag-Lloyd has expanded considerably through mergers and acquisitions. In 2005, it bought CP Ships and then more recently combined with the container shipping arm of CSAV. Having under-performed in recent years, it produced stronger financial results last year, helped by the CSAV contribution, and also completed an initial public offering.
The deal with UASC gives Hapag-Lloyd access to 18,000 teu-class ships. UASC was one of the first lines to order this size of ship but as a relative newcomer, it lacks the customer base to fill them without partnerships with other lines. It had been a member of Ocean Three alongside CMA CGM and China Shipping, but that alliance is being disbanded. UASC also has a global agreement with Hamburg Süd, Germany’s second-biggest carrier behind Hapag-Lloyd.
The next unknown in a rapidly-changing scene is who will be members of The Alliance, which will replace the G6 alliance of which Hapag-Lloyd is a member. The new group is expected to consist of Hapag-Lloyd, the three Japanese lines, Yang Ming and Hanjin Shipping. Until a few days ago, HMM had also been expected to join. Now, though, HMM is in talks about joining the 2M alliance of Maersk and MSC.