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MSC tipped to overtake Maersk at the top of the liner rankings

Maersk, the world’s largest containerline for the past quarter century, could soon lose its top spot on the global liner rankings list to its alliance partner, MSC.

MSC has been very active in recent weeks in the secondhand tonnage market, and is being widely tipped to be on the cusp of a major order for a 23,000 teu class series.

Analysts at Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence suggested in a report out on Sunday that MSC might soon overtake Maersk as the world’s largest carrier.

Presently, Maersk is 6% larger than MSC, and with the known orderbooks this will gradually decline to 4%, according to Sea-Intelligence, while Alphaliner data (see below) shows that in terms of global market share there is now just a 0.9% difference between the two companies, both part of the 2M alliance.

Losing the #1 ranking spot, which the carrier has had for a quarter of a century, would have some emotional impact in Copenhagen

“In absolute terms, it also means that if MSC goes ahead and orders just a single new series of ultra-large vessels for the Asia-Europe trade, and Maersk continues their current strategy of not ordering more large tonnage, then we will see MSC overtake Maersk on fleet size,” Sea-Intelligence noted.

Maersk top management have repeatedly stressed this year the Danish line is not in the market for newbuilds any time soon.

Sea-Intelligence said that Maersk is pursuing a strategy focused on profitability rather than size.

“But ‘losing’ the #1 ranking spot, which the carrier has had for a quarter of a century, would still likely have some emotional impact in Copenhagen,” the analysts observed.

MSC became the world’s second largest carrier in 2004, and since then, it and Maersk have continued to top the global ranking table.

Over the past few weeks MSC has been extremely active adding secondhand tonnage to its fleet, most of which was previously on charter to the line. If all of the deals are confirmed, MSC’s owned fleet will reach 204 ships.

Soren Toft, former Maersk COO, is set to start as CEO at MSC this month.

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.

Comments

  1. Analysts at Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence suggested in a report out on Sunday that MSC might soon overtake Maersk as the world’s largest carrier……………….Wow – this is hardly earth-shattering news, is it?
    The likelihood that SC was going to assume the No.1 capacity position has been on the cards for at l;eat two years and especially since MSC started building the MSC Zoe class of ships, which coincided with Maersk’s announcement that they would not be expanding their fleet or ordering new vessels.

  2. With the focus of AP Moller, shifting from port-to-port to, door-to-door, I guess it was bound to happen. They will soon realize that they are asset heavy and, to be able to deliver they need not have all these assets.
    Service parameters will improve, due to their capability to manage the entire supply chain. Profitability will improve if they utilize their assets efficiently.

    Sooner or later MSC will take the top slot, as the largest shipping line.

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