Maersk Lines

Marking further consolidation of global shipping, Maersk Line, the world’s largest ocean cargo carrier, and the Oetker Group, have reached an agreement for Maersk to acquire Hamburg Süd, the German container shipping line.

With the acquisition, the Maersk Line will have container capacity of around 3.8 million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, and an 18.6 percent global capacity share. The combined fleet will consist of 741 container vessels.

Hamburg Süd is the world’s seventh largest container shipping line and a leader in North-South trades. The company operates 130 container vessels with a container capacity of 625,000 TEUs. It has 5,960 employees in more than 250 offices across the world and markets it services through the Hamburg Süd; CCNI, based in Chile, and Aliança, based in Brazil, brands.

Maersk did not reveal a purchase price but is said to be in the neighborhood of $4 billion.

In 2015, Hamburg Süd, based in Germany, had sales of $6.73 billion, of which $6.26 billion stems from its container line activities.

“Today is a new milestone in Maersk Line’s history,” said Søren Skou, chief executive officer of Maersk Line and the parent Maersk Group. “Hamburg Süd is a very well-run and highly respected company with strong brands, dedicated employees and loyal customers. Hamburg Süd complements Maersk Line and together we can offer our customers the best of two worlds, first of all in the North-South trades.”

Ottmar Gast, chairman of the executive board of the Hamburg Süd Group, said, “While gaining access to a superior network and systems, we will continue the Hamburg Süd brand and business model offering personalized solutions to our shippers and consignees. By joining forces both Maersk and Hamburg Süd will strengthen their product portfolio and cost position to the benefit of their customers.”

Skou said the acquisition of Hamburg Süd is in line with Maersk’s growth strategy and will increase volumes of its Maersk Line and APM Terminals units.

Hamburg Süd and Aliança will continue as separate brands and continue to serve customers through their local offices.

“Hamburg Süd and Aliança have competitive and attractive customer value propositions, which we want to preserve and protect,” Skou said. “We wish to maintain the personal touch and engagement they offer their customers.”

Maersk, based in Copenhagen, said the combined network will enable Maersk Line to develop new products with more direct port calls and shorter transit times.

The move follows a series or mergers, acquisitions and alliances in the ocean freight sector in recent years as carriers look to lower costs and improve efficiency in a highly competitive and challenging environment.

In April, Costo Container Lines, CMA CGM, Evergreen Line and Orient Overseas Container Line formed the Ocean Alliance with shared service and schedule planning. Customers such as apparel and textile importers benefit from a competitive selection of sailing schedules and direct port pairs, fast transit times and an efficient fleet of vessels.

CMA CGM also purchased Neptune Orient Lines this summer to expand its global reach and condense shipping routes.

The Maersk-Hamburg Süd acquisition is subject to a satisfactory due diligence, final agreement and subject to regulatory approval in amongst others China, South Korea, Australia, Brazil, the U.S. and European Union. Maersk expects the regulatory process to last until the end of 2017. Until then, Hamburg Süd and Maersk Line will continue business as usual.