CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd merger speculation dismissed

A Reuters report claiming France’s CMA CGM has been in touch with its Hamburg counterpart Hapag-Lloyd over a possible merger has been dismissed as “rumours”.

Citing three unidentified sources, Reuters claimed CMA CGM, the world’s third largest containerline, has in recent months opened discussions with Hapag-Lloyd, the world’s fifth largest liner, about a possible all share, non-cash merger. Alphaliner data shows that the merged pairing would create the world’s largest containerline with 4.24m slots.

However, the report has been denied by Hapag-Lloyd officials.

“There is no substance in the rumours,” a Hapag-Lloyd executive told Splash today.

The Reuters report went on to claim that the CMA CGM approach had been rejected by Hapag-Lloyd’s major shareholders – CSAV of Chile, Germany’s Kuehne family and HGV, which manages the investments for the German city-state of Hamburg.

With both carriers in different 15-month old alliances, the Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance, the rupture of one or other company having to exit one of these newly formed container groupings, would also seriously irk their customers.

The idea of these two European shipping giants coming together was first mooted by Olaf Merk, the ports and shipping expert of the International Transport Forum at the OECD. Writing on his own blog, Shipping Today, 12 months ago Merk mused whether European politicians might enter the fray as a defensive measure, with Cosco seen to be sizing up France’s CMA CGM.

“A joint French-German carrier, partly state-owned, with potential complementary networks would not only be a powerful expression of that new political reality, but also suddenly become the world’s largest carrier,” Merk wrote.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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