Japan's 3 shipping giants unveil new joint venture

To be named Ocean Network Express, its global HQ will be set up in Singapore

Japan's "Big Three" shipping lines have unveiled their new joint venture - to be named Ocean Network Express - which will house its global headquarters in Singapore.

Ocean Network Express is a consolidation of the container shipping businesses of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Mitsui OSK Lines and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha.

It includes their worldwide terminal operation businesses, although not those in Japan.

The three carriers said in a joint statement on Wednesday that they plan to set up a holding company for the joint venture in Japan, along with an operating company that will be incorporated in Singapore.

The joint venture will also set up its regional headquarters here, with four other similar offices in Hong Kong, Britain, the United States and Brazil.

"The move will allow Ocean Network Express to better meet customers' needs by providing high-quality, competitive services through the consolidation and enhancement of the three companies' global network and service structures," said the lines.

They added that the establishment of Ocean Network Express will be announced officially once all anti-trust reviews are completed, with the service commencement date set for April 1 next year.

The deal between the Japanese lines was first announced last October, amid a wave of mergers and acquisitions in the global container shipping industry as players grappled with severe over-capacity.

Ocean Shipping Consultants director Jason Chiang believes that the new joint venture anchoring its global office here is a good sign for Singapore as a maritime hub.

"For them to station themselves in Singapore, they have to be positive about the long-term outlook here," he told The Straits Times.

But it remains to be seen if the three lines will beef up headcount here, as there will be some duplication in terms of functions with their existing offices, said Mr Chiang. He added: "Increased volumes as a result of this merger will depend on the market, but the lines would benefit from lower operational costs."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2017, with the headline 'Japan's 3 shipping giants unveil new joint venture'. Print Edition | Subscribe