Why not form a shipping alliance?

Home-grown shipping firm Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) is set to be sold ("French carrier offers $3.38b to buy out NOL", "French shipping giant to reinforce S'pore's hub status" and "Good ship NOL deserves final berth in safe harbour"; all published on Tuesday).

The justification for the sale is that NOL is unable to meet the scale necessary to compete effectively in the current global environment.

The new owner, French shipping line CMA CGM, has said it will help maintain and enhance Singapore's position as a maritime hub.

However, this does not appear to be a condition of the sale. Once the sale is completed and NOL delisted, Singapore's position is beyond its control.

Instead of a sale, would not an alliance with other liners, such as the airlines' Star Alliance, be a viable and practical option for NOL?

NOL may not be as iconic as other entities, but it is a historical symbol that should be given every opportunity to evolve with the times, along with the development of Singapore as a maritime hub.

Stephen Chia Keow Chin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2015, with the headline 'Why not form a shipping alliance?'. Print Edition | Subscribe