Mediterranean Shipping Co. has placed so many orders for new container ships recently that its orderbook is the largest among all carriers, according to Alphaliner.
MSC has moved past both Evergreen and Maersk Line in the last two months, and its capacity could rise further.
The spate of recent orders by the world’s second-largest container line is motivated by its overriding desire to maintain and increase its market share in the north-south trades, as well as in the east-west trades. It has been particularly aggressive in seeking a greater share of the U.S. trades.
Recent orders have lifted the total of MSC’s owned and chartered capacity on order since 2009 to 473,000 20-foot-equivalent units, including 97,000 TEUs that have already been delivered and 376,000 TEUs scheduled for delivery over the next three years.
These orders do not include orders that have been linked to it but not yet confirmed. For example, MSC and Hong Kong Asset Management have been linked to an order for three 18,400-TEU ships placed with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, the South Korean yard building Maersk Line’s Triple E ships.
Alphaliner said MSC’s orders have been fueled by the sale of a 35 percent stake in its terminal investment arm to Global Infrastructure Partners for $1.93 billion that closed at the end of May after obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals.
MSC is also getting abundant financing for its new vessel acquisitions. Last month, CIMC FL (HK), a wholly owned subsidiary of China International Marine Containers, ordered five neo-Panamax wide-beam units of 8,800 TEUs each at the New Times Shipyard in China for $85 million each with the backing of a long-term charter by MSC.
MSC will charter the ships for a period of 17 years at $25,000 per day and is required to buy them at the end of their charter for $21.5 million each. They are scheduled for delivery in 2015, and this deal follows a similar one concluded three weeks earlier with CIMC to build seven identical units at Dalian Shipbuilding.