Denmark's shipping giant Maersk Line is to acquire German rival Hamburg Sud. Maersk Line parent AP Moller-Maersk said yesterday that it expects to finalise the transaction by the end of next year.
The combined network will enable Maersk Line to develop new products with more direct port calls and shorter transit times, said Maersk Line chief executive Soren Skou.
"The acquisition of Hamburg Sud is in line with our growth strategy and will increase the volumes of both Maersk Line and APM Terminals," he added, referring to the container terminal operating company owned by Maersk.
Maersk said the acquisition is subject to final agreement and regulatory approvals, and will have no impact on the firm's outlook for 2016.
Maersk said it expects to communicate further details following approval of the purchase agreement, which is expected early in the second quarter of next year.
The move comes amid continuing consolidation in the shipping industry, which has been hammered by overcapacity and slumping global trade. Japan's three largest shipping firms said in October they were merging their container businesses, while French company CMA CGM bought Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines earlier this year. South Korea's largest shipping firm Hanjin filed for bankruptcy protection in August.
"Hamburg Sud is one of the players in the industry that is probably too small to survive in the long run. It has only 3 per cent of the market," Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgard told Danish news agency Ritzau.
According to the Maersk statement yesterday, Hamburg Sud is the world's seventh-largest container shipping line, operating 130 container vessels with a container capacity of 625,000 twenty-foot equivalent.
"By joining forces, both Maersk and Hamburg Sud will strengthen their product portfolio and cost position to the benefit of their customers," said Dr Ottmar Gast, chairman of the executive board of Hamburg Sud, in the statement.
Dr August Oetker, advisory board chairman of Oetker Group's management holding company, said: "Giving up our engagement in shipping after an 80-year-long ownership in Hamburg Sud was not an easy decision for my family. We are very confident, though, to have chosen the best of all possible partners.
"Maersk will preserve and grow Hamburg Sud and what the brand and the whole organisation and a highly dedicated workforce stand for: reliable and high-quality logistical services to our customers."