SM Line signs with MSC and Maersk on the transpacific

As MSC and Maersk prepare to bid farewell to partner HMM, they’ve found a new Korean liner to help out on the transpacific.

HMM, South Korea’s flagship carrier, will join rival THE Alliance on April 1. MSC and Maersk, the founder of the 2M grouping, have signed up SM Line to cooperate on the transpacific from the start of April.

In a note to clients, MSC explained the deal with SM Line is not linked to 2M.

“The new agreement with SM Line is separate from the 2M Vessel Sharing Agreement between MSC and Maersk, and the services of 2M and SM Line will complement each other. It consists of a combination of slot exchanges and slot purchases among the three parties – MSC, Maersk and SM Line – and it is subject to regulatory approval,” MSC stated.

The SM tie-up specifically will give MSC and Maersk greater access to the Pacific Northwest, while allowing SM more slots to California.

The agreement between 2M and ZIM in the Pacific North West region remains in full effect.

SM Line was launched three years ago by Samra Midas Group, buying many of the assets of defunct Hanjin Shipping. Samra Midas, best known in Korea for its construction activities, also owns Korea Line Corporation.

SM Line has put a number of its 6,000 teu class ships up for sale in recent weeks, ships that had been deployed on the line’s PSW service linking Asia with Los Angeles.

Commenting on the news, Andy Lane from Singapore’s CTI Consultancy, said sharing with Maersk and MSC was a logical move for SM Line.

“It was always going to be difficult for SM Line to operate solo on these trades in terms of unit costs, product diversity and utilisation of assets. It therefore makes perfect sense for them to share services with 2M, which will undoubtedly be win-win,” Lane said.

SM Line is expected to continue to operate its 4,500 teu ships on its PNW service calling Vancouver, Portland and Seattle, with 2M expected to get some space.

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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