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‘We are not doing anything to drive down rates’: Maersk Line CFO

Maersk Line’s CFO Pierre Danet has told Splash that the world’s largest containerline will slash costs further, and dismissed claims that the company is driving down rates.

Speaking exclusively with Splash, Danet, 45, said that while the company was “very happy” to break the $2,000 per feu cost mark in the second quarter, more will be done to bring that figure down further.

“You can assume that will not that be the end. We will keep bringing costs down,” Danet said.

Amid record low freight rates Maersk Line reported a second quarter 2016 result that was $658m lower than Q2 2015, something the group’s new ceo, Soren Skou described as “unacceptable”. Skou took on the top job at the group in July while still retaining his ceo position at Maersk Line.

Unit costs at Maersk Line reached an all-time low of $1,911 per feu in the second quarter of 2016.

Danet, who joined Maersk Line as CFO in April 2015 having worked previously with Hewlett-Packard and Procter & Gamble, described industry fundamentals at present as “challenging”. The containerline, he said, would pursue two key strategies: cost leadership and commercial excellence. The fact that volumes grew by 6.9% in the second quarter pointed towards Maersk’s commercial excellence, Danet suggested.

Looking at the Maersk Line results Lars Jensen, ceo of Copenhagen-based SeaIntelligence Consulting, suggested on Friday that Maersk Line has been pursuing a policy of chasing greater global market share by taking on lower paying cargo.

“Given the volatile and commoditized nature of the main trades, it therefore cannot be ruled out that Maersk Line has been one of the drivers of the eroding rates in their (successful) pursuit of higher market share,” Jensen noted in a report last week.

This suggestion was blasted today by Danet. “Our objective is to grow in line with the market,” the French national stressed, adding: “We are pricing in line with the market. Our rates are going down with the market but we are not doing anything to drive down the rates.”

Danet did add however that the containerline will not be so slow as it had been in the past to react to rate changes.

On Q3, Danet maintained he expected freight rates to go up.

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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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