Maersk’s Skou anticipates more container consolidation

In the fevered era of container shipping mergers, where Singapore’s Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) has admitted both Maersk and CMA CGM are interested in buying it, the boss of the world’s top boxline has said once again more consolidation is likely. Speaking with Reuters yesterday, Soren Skou, ceo of Maersk Line, said: “I expect a number of deals.”

Skou declined to comment on the possible acquisition of NOL, which runs containerline, APL.

“We are getting the expected benefits from vessel-sharing agreements, but more can come from consolidation,” Skou said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal a month ago.

With Maersk announcing it will axe up to 240,000 teu in newbuild options last week, while the group as a whole remains on track to post a profit this year of $3.6bn, the acquisition of NOL – likely to cost around $2.7bn – is easily manageable for the Danish giant.

“The strategic arguments for Maersk Line to acquire NOL would be to expand the geographical scale in Intra-Asia and on the Transpacific,” Nordea Markets shipping analyst Stig Frederiksen said in a note to clients this week.

NOL’s sale follows on from many other changes in the box shipping landscape: X-Press Feeders taking on TransAtlantic yesterday, a Cosco and China Shipping merger on the horizon and the Hapag-Lloyd/CSAV merger last year.

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.


  1. Soren Skou is right – The way i understand the next level of consolidation will be beyond VSA’s and cooperation agreements. Joint Executive Boards are the next step. Will shipping ego’s such as Aponte’s, Saade’s and Vikings be prepared to share power?

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