Shipping lines selling property tends to be a sure sign of a crisis. Yang Ming, the world’s ninth largest line and mired in debts, has sold an office in Taipei for $60m as it fights to balance its books.
Taiwanese politicians earlier this week debated the future of the island’s second largest containerline with calls for Yang Ming to merge with other lines or possibly state-run Taiwan International Port Corp (TIPC).
With the dramatic consolidation seen across the container shipping sector this year, Yang Ming, which has lost $407m in the first three quarters, finds itself in a precarious position. Now the world’s ninth largest containerline with a fleet of 565,766 slots according to Alphaliner, Yang Ming needs to make some hard decisions about its future. To be a genuine global liner company in today’s altered container shipping reality a company needs to have at least twice the capacity Yang Ming controls. A merger with fellow Taiwanese line Evergreen is not simple for two reasons: first, the state controls 33% of Yang Ming and secondly, the two lines are heading into different alliances next April – Yang Ming into THE Alliance while Evergreen has signed up to the Ocean Alliance.