Hapag-Lloyd ordered four container ships of 13,200 20-foot equivalent units capacity from Hyundai Heavy Industries. The ocean carrier also upgraded an earlier order for six 8,750-TEU ships from the Korean shipyard to the larger size.
The 10 vessels, scheduled for delivery between mid-2012 and the end of 2013, will be deployed on Asia-Europe routes operated with the German carrier's Grand Alliance partners OOCL and NYK.
Hyundai said the 10 ship order is worth $1.45 billion, making it Hapag-Lloyd's largest contract.
By The Numbers: Asia-Europe Westbound Container Traffic.
"This is a clear sign that Hapag-Lloyd has returned to its previous position of strength and will take advantage of its opportunities to grow profitably," said Michael Behrendt, chairman of the executive board of Hapag-Lloyd.
"The step up to the next vessel size is as well considered as it is important for Hapag-Lloyd."
Hapag-Lloyd, which was rescued from the brink of bankruptcy by its shareholders in late 2009, has also bought back its imposing headquarters in Hamburg's Ballindamm from its largest individual shareholder TUI.
TUI said it will book $429 million in inflows from the sale of the building on Hamburg's waterfront.
Hapag-Lloyd, the world's fifth largest ocean carrier, also announced it has paid back around $793 million of loans to its shareholders.
The Hapag-Lloyd order underscored the renewed confidence in container shipping a year after its deepest slump. The contract came a day after CSAV, the Chilean carrier rescued by German charter ship owners in 2009, announced an order for two 8,000-TEU ships.
OOCL is said to be negotiating an order for 13,200-TEU ships and Maersk Line is expected shortly to unveil a contract for 10 18,000-TEU vessels with an option for a further 10.
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