More than 87 pct of the global fleet capacity is controlled by only ten out of 67 shipping lines operating fully cellular containerships, which is less than 7 pct of the total lines, according to the data from MDS Transmodal.
Danish liner major Maersk Line is on the top of the list with an estimated share of over 21 pct of the global market (excluding intra-regional).
Maersk Line is followed by its 2M Alliance partner Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) in the second place and CMA CGM in the third place. The remaining top ten players include German liner Hapag-Lloyd, COSCO, Evergreen, OOCL, MOL, Yang Ming and NYK.
Over the last four years, the top 10 shipping lines have seen their combined market share increase from 68 to 83 pct, according to the UK-based consultancy.
During the said period, the top 10 lines have seen their deployed capacity increase from some 55 million TEU to 86.7 million TEU. The increase was mainly driven by consolidation and mergers and acquisitions over the past few years, a process which is far from over.
Namely, Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) is to become part of China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) sometime this year, bringing the duo’s combined share in the deep sea trades to around 12 pct.
In April 2018 the container divisions of Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) will merge, forming a joint venture called Ocean Network Express (ONE). MDS estimates that their combined share of the deep sea trades will be 8.7 pct.
With fewer lines dominating the market, smaller lines are facing an ever-increasing pressure.
On the major three East/West routes, the market is dominated by the three alliances- Ocean Alliance, 2M and the Alliance- although at different magnitudes. On the Asia-Europe routes, lines that are not part of alliances account for just 1 pct of the total deployed capacity, whereas on the Transpacific and Transatlantic routes, they account for 11 pct and 17 pct respectively, data from MDS shows.
However, on the individual routes, mergers and acquisitions and consolidations could indirectly offer opportunities for small players.
For instance, the strict conditions imposed by the regulatory authorities on Maersk operations after the acquisition of Hamburg Süd have offered the chance for a small line, in this case, Pacific International Lines (PIL), to launch a service between Asia and South America EC.
Nevertheless, the longevity of this kind of services is far from certain as they will be subject to rates volatility, MDS concludes.
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