Mediterranean Shipping and CMA CGM, the world’s second- and third-largest ocean carriers, announced an agreement Thursday to join forces on key trade routes around the world in a far-reaching partnership likely to trigger a new round of consolidation in the container shipping industry.
The carriers said in a joint statement the partnership would span several trade lanes, including Asia-North Europe, Asia-Southern Africa and all South American markets. The partnership will allow CMA CGM and MSC to deploy their best ships, while increasing the number of port calls and frequency of sailings.
The alliance between the two family-owned companies comes at a time of deepening losses in the industry triggered by excess capacity and slowing world trade that has prompted moves by smaller carriers to pursue consolidation.
In the past week, Chile’s CSAV and Zim, the Israeli carrier, have been reported to be seeking partners, while Malaysia’s MISC Berhad announced it will exit container shipping because of mounting losses.
The CMA CGM-MSC pact is also expected to exert fresh pressure on Japan’s top three shipping lines, MOL, NYK and “K” Line, to re-examine plans to spin off their ocean container activities into a single unit.
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