Samra Midas Group (SM Group) has prodded brokers to source up to 21 ships as it ploughs ahead with transpacific plans despite shareholder concerns. With shareholders of dry bulk subsidiary Korea Line Corporation vetoing a plan for the company to take over the transpacific operations of defunct Hanjin Shipping, SM has decided to take matters into its own hands, forming SM Line Corporation and seeking to become a serious player on both the intra-Asia trades as well as the transpacific.
SM officials have outlined plans to source 21 ships. The initial fleet will consist of eleven ships of around 6,500 teu and ten ships of around 4,000 teu. As well as taking on some of Hanjin’s fleet, SM will look to charter in tonnage as well as buy some secondhand vessels with a view to launching the line as early as April. Its initial 21-ship fleet buildup would give it a fleet with around 110,000 slots replacing IRISL from Iran as the world’s 20th largest container carrier, according to the latest statistics from Alphaliner.
SM is expected to close the deal to take over Hanjin’s transpacific operations within the next 10 days while it is already in discussions to join the new Korean intra-Asia consortium just announced by Sinokor, Heung-A and Hyundai Merchant Marine.
SM Group is best known in the construction sector, although in 2013 it bought financially struggling Korea Line Corp. Last year it came close to buying out Korean yard SPP Shipbuilding, but the deal fell through in November.