Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Container Shipping Faces Merger Urge as Money Dries Up

The container shipping industry may face a wave of mergers as carriers try to cushion themselves from the current crisis and grow to lower costs and improve access to funding.
Hamburg-based Hapag-Lloyd AG, the world’s sixth-largest container line, is in merger talks with Hamburg Sued, the No. 12, to create the world’s fourth-largest carrier. The two lines together would have capacity less than only A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, CMA CGM SA and Mediterranean Shipping Co. While Hamburg Sued focuses on North-South trade, Hapag-Lloyd mainly operates on East-West lanes such as Asia to Europe.
A.P. Moeller-Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd container ships sit next to each other at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California, on Aug. 23, 2012. Photographer: Ken James/Bloomberg
Carriers have struggled to make profits in the past two years because of an overcapacity of vessels, slumping demand and low freight rates. Maersk Line, the world’s largest container carrier, has higher profitability than rivals because of its size, suggesting that economies of scale are key in shielding the industry from downturns. The world’s top four lines control 41 percent of global container capacity, according to data provider Alphaliner SA.
“One reason why you need a certain size is to be able to be competitive on the biggest trade lanes and to get access to larger tonnage,” Kai Miller, Hamburg-based head of the container desk at London ship broker ICAP, said in a phone interview. “There might also be a chance that some organizations perfectly complement each other, either through their activity in specific trades or through the existence of excellent management and organizational structures.”

Share Sale

Hapag-Lloyd had been planning an initial public offering before merger talks with Hamburg Sued were announced, as has France’s CMA CGM. Costamare Inc. (CMRE), the Greek owner of 58 chartered container ships, sold 7 million shares at $14 per share in October to raise cash for ship purchases.
Maersk Line (MAERSKB) operates 600 ships with capacity of 2.6 million standard containers, making it the world’s No. 1, according to Paris-based Alphaliner. Hapag-Lloyd has an equal amount of trade on its Far East, Atlantic, Latin American and transpacific routes, between 22 and 23 percent in 2011. That means it’s less vulnerable to downturns on one line and that it can compensate slumps in rates on one route by raising prices on another.
“Container shipping is the epicenter of economies of scale, so if you are able to lower your unit cost per box that you handle you may be able to get a small profit when your competitors run a deficit,” said Peter Sand, an analyst at BIMCO shipping association in Bagsvaerd, Denmark. “That will give you the upside.”
No Wave?
Still, he doesn’t expect an outbreak of mergers in the industry in coming years as a lot of the potential consolidation has already taken place. France’s CMA CGM, based in Marseille, was created through the merger of Cie. Maritime d’Affretement and CGM in 1996. It then acquiredAustralia’s ANL in 1998. Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp. (2603) has swallowed companies including Uniglory and Italia Marittima in the past few decades. Maersk has taken over lines including Sea-Land Services’ container operations and Royal P&O Nedlloyd.
Some carriers without strong government ties “may find themselves in an extremely difficult financial situation where a merger with a more financially sound partner may be one of the only ways going forward,” said Sand, declining to comment on what container carriers may be merger candidates.
Hapag-Lloyd spokesman Rainer Horn declined to comment, while Hamburg Sued didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Funding Access

Hapag-Lloyd and Hamburg Sued said on Dec. 18 last year that their executive boards, in agreement with their owners, are “investigating if and under what conditions a merger of both companies would be of interest.” Rahul Kapoor, a Singapore- based analyst at Drewry Maritime Equity Research, said a merger would have operational benefits, increase the revenue base and lead to cost savings for the two German carriers.
Still, “the key is relatively easier access to funding,” Kapoor said. “Capital markets like size.”
An exit by many banks from ship financing, including Commerzbank AG’s decision last year to withdraw from maritime lending and HSH Nordbank AG’s plan to reduce its shipping balance sheet, has exacerbated the maritime industry crisis.
Banks such as DNB ASA (DNB) and Nordea Bank AB (NDA) still lend to the industry, typically using money paid back on existing loans to finance new credit. Still, European lenders face stricter capital requirements, making them more cautious on new lending than during the shipping industry’s boom years.

Total Capital

Maersk Line’s earnings before interest and taxes was $129 per standard container, or TEU, in the third quarter, compared with an industry average of $65 per TEU, according to Dan Togo Jensen, an analyst with Svenska Handelsbanken AB in Copenhagen. That put Maersk among the top three highest earners in the quarter, according to Jensen.
“Maersk Line’s profitability is driven by its size,” Jensen, who has a buy recommendation on the stock, said by phone. “Profitability in the third quarter was also helped by a relative jump in freight rates on Asia-Europe, which is Maersk Line’s most important route.”
Of the total of 367 deals worth $91 billion in the shipping and offshore industry in the first 11 months of last year, banks supplied only $34.3 billion, or 38 percent, of the total capital, according to data from Marine Money International. At the industry peak in 2007, banks accounted for $129.2 billion, or 75 percent, of the total of $234.7 billion, the data shows.
The drying up of credit may result in more companies seeking to raise cash in IPOs, Miller said, declining to name potential candidates.
“You need to be big if you’re to order the biggest ships,” said Miller. “You need a lot of money and you need to have plenty of these big ships to be able to operate a route successfully. One is not enough.”

Hanjin plummets further into the red

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping has posted a Q2 11 loss of USD 254 million, of which its liner division was responsible for USD157 million – where its average rate per TEU slumped to USD 1,287. It has pledged to “suspend loss-making” slings and “restructure service” in an endeavour to return to profitability
Hanjin blamed its “comparatively large exposure” to the troubled Asia-Europe tradelane for its poor performance; highlighted by a 14.3% quarter-on-quarter increase in liftings to just over 1 million TEU supported by just a 6.6% increase in turnover.

In a statement Hanjin said, going forward it would improve the profitability of its container business by “suspending loss-making routes, reorganising ports and rotations and restructuring deployed vessels”  
Optimistically, Hanjin said that it expected an improvement in the third quarter; nonetheless investors were not impressed with the group’s stock losing 6.6% on the exchange.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

London Gateway Shippers Video

Opening in Q4 2013, London Gateway combines a world-class deep-sea container port with Europe's largest dedicated logistics park. The port includes brand new road, rail and sea linkages that will enable highly efficient multi-modal hinterland connectivity to provide faster, cheaper and more environmentally-friendly ways to transport goods to London, Birmingham, Manchester and beyond.

The first 3 quayside container cranes for London Gateway are on their way to the Thames – they’re the largest to be delivered at present . .

Monday, 28 January 2013

MSC Flaminia fire

MSC Flaminia: shipper required to pay the cost of his goods to get them back from MSC/NSB
Maritime Bulletin received yet one more letter from a cargo owner who shipped his goods on board of MSC Flaminia. He shipped a car from the US, cost of the car is $5,200. Container with his car wasn’t damaged. He can’t retrieve his container until he pays General Average, which for him, was calculated as a sum of $5,200 (is it some kind of a bad joke, twisted sense of humor?). He is at a loss what to do – curse it all around and forget about car, or try to do something? 
Questions to those who’re defending the General Average Rule, at least in MSC Flaminia case –how that fire can be even theoretically connected to the risks of the seas; and how does it come that minor shippers should suffer substantial losses in order for carrier to cover his losses? $5,200 may seem a small sum, but for an individual it may be equal, comparatively, to the loss of ocean-going container ship for the carrier company. 
The MSC Flaminia fire is the result of utterly inadequate present-day container safety regulations, and the inability for any major carrier to check all the containers it loads and carries. Radically new approach to container safety can’t be adapted separately by this or that carrier, actually such an undertaking exceeds the capabilities of all of them taken together, and requires international efforts. But at least it’s a subject to discussion, like it was the case with terror threat and demand for physical check of each container destined to the US. At least the public has a right to know the statistics of container fire-related incidents on board of container ships. There is something though, carriers could do by themselves, to improve the safety – they could stop the malpractice of stacking containers with safe goods together with containers with dangerous goods. 
As for MSC Flaminia minor shippers, I still strongly believe they may collectively sue the carrier on the same basis they could sue the management of warehouse or hotel or any other storage facility, which failed to provide the guaranteed safety. Technically, physically speaking, there’s absolutely no difference between fire on board of MSC Flaminia and fire in a land storage facility, and natural causes, namely sea voyage risks, have nothing to do with MSC Flaminia fire. That’s the point. 
Voytenko Mikhail
Jan 25 

OPDR launches Casablanca express from Felixstowe

Hamburg based Oldenburg-Portugiesische Dampfschiffs-Rhederei (OPDR) is now offering its customers a seven-day transit direct container service to Casablanca from the UK port of Felixstowe, which its UK agent says is “unique”.

OPDR will provide the link deploying five similar capacity vessels departing from Felixstowe every Saturday, arriving at Casablanca on the following Saturday.

Hitherto carriers were only offering a transit time of 10 - 16 days with transhipment either via Rotterdam or Lisbon.

John Good Shipping, the liner’s UK agent, said that the new schedule would offer shippers a “fast, efficient and cost-effective” route into north Africa.

Steve Whitfield, OPDR line manager at John Good said: “This new service makes the OPDR service unique as we are not aware of any other line calling either directly or even on a weekly basis, or indeed offering such a quick transit time.”

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Trimley: Triple-glazing to be offered to cut A14 lorry traffic noise

MOVES to build an acoustic barrier alongside the A14 to cut lorry noise which is making residents’ lives a misery today look set to fail.
Instead householders are set to be offered the opportunity of free triple-glazing to keep out the traffic din.
The latest moves follow months of investigations – including a full-scale sound survey to identify the worst affected areas of Trimley St Martin and Trimley St Mary – with £500,000 available for the project as part of the mitigation for the most recent port expansion.
Councillor Graham Harding, who on behalf of Trimley St Mary Parish Council has been putting pressure on Suffolk Coastal and the Port of Felixstowe to resolve the noise problems, said both the barrier and triple-glazing options were still on the table.
However, the barrier could only be put in place if all affected residents agreed, as any gap would mean it would not work – and there was already opposition on the Farmlands estate.
“The barrier would be three metres high and just six feet away from existing back garden fences,” said Mr Harding.
“There would be a significant visual impact close to the property although a huge benefit in reduction in the sound of traffic on the A14.”
There were concerns though not only about the sight of the barrier, but also that the six feet gap – needed for maintenance – would create a corridor that might be used for anti-social behaviour or as a dump for garden waste, attracting vermin.
Some residents canvassed in Fen Meadow and Thomas Avenue had been against the proposal.
This would leave the only option as triple-glazing but councillors said there would need to be a clear explanation from the port and district council as to why some properties qualified and others did not.
Letters would be sent soon to households.
“The parish council has tried to act as an honest broker in this matter to get some action – there is some urgency because if the work is not done soon the money will be lost,” said Mr Harding.
Parish council chairman Colin Jacobs said: “It is a shame we cannot stop the noise at the source – sound absorbent road surfacing would cure most of the problems.”

Friday, 25 January 2013

Violent storm hits North Atlantic

The most powerful storm in almost 20 years is currently building up over the North Atlantic. During Friday the storm is expected to reach wind speeds of over 60 knots. Saturday it is expected to culminate with wind speeds up to 85 knots.
After the storm the expected strength could trigger waves up to 17 meters on Saturday, where air pressure can reach 923 millibars. The approaching storm is a record-breaking storm recorded in the North Atlantic. The so-called Braer Storm hit the North Atlantic on 10 January 1993 and sent the barometer down to 914 mb.

The storm is named after the tanker MV Braer which stranded at Shetland during a previous storm.

Source: NOAA OPC /

Maersk improves Belfast feeder coverage

Maersk has announced improvements to its feeder coverage for Belfast, saying the services had become irregular and unpredictable as a result of continuous delays in Rotterdam. 

The line said the changes aimed to restore schedule integrity and provide customers with “the expected stability, regularity and predictability” of feeder sailings.

Its weekly service to/from Rotterdam will leave Belfast at noon every Tuesday, arriving APMT Rotterdam at 11pm every Thursday, returning from Rotterdam at 7am every Friday, arriving Belfast midday Monday.

Its Butterfly service to/from Felixstowe and Rotterdam has also been revised. Rotation 1 leaves Belfast 11pm Sunday, arriving ECT Delta Rotterdam at 7am Tuesday and Felixstowe 7am Friday, returning from Rotterdam 11pm Thursday and Felixstowe 11pm Friday, arriving at Belfast 11pm Monday.

Rotation 2 leaves Belfast 11pm Wednesday, arriving ECT Delta Rotterdam 8am Saturday and Felixstowe 7am Tuesday, returning from Rotterdam at 8pm Monday and Felixstowe 11pm Tuesday and arriving at Belfast at 7am on Saturday.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Proud To Be A Docker

The docker`s job

Tough and independent, dockers are a race apart. Ports depend on them more than any other group of workers. Because of this, and the way they used to be employed, they had the power to disrupt the port.
Much dock work involves hard physical labour, but a degree of skill and experience is also needed. It is also very specialised. The main distinction is between stevedores and porters, but there are many other types of worker.

Stevedores and porters

In contrast to stevedores, porters never go on a ship. When the stevedores have unloaded the cargo porters move it from the dockside into warehouses or sheds. They also have tasks such as counting, sorting, and weighing items. They also pack them into canal boats, barges, rail wagons or trucks.Stevedores actually fill and empty ships. They work in the hold of a ship, to stow the cargo most efficiently, or unload it as quickly as possible. Also referred to as stevedores are those who work on deck, lowering or raising the cargo from the hold, and move it between ship and shore. Stevedores are regarded as the most skilled of dockers and their work is probably the most hazardous. This is usually reflected in their wages.
In a large port, dockers might specialise in different types of cargo. Fruit porters, for instance, become very skilled at judging the fruit they unloaded. So much so, that the fruit merchants relied on the porters to grade the fruit they sold. In cotton importing ports like Liverpool, some stevedores specialised in this particular cargo because of the way it was loaded. Being light and bulky, bales of cotton were physically forced into the holds in loading ports such as New Orleans (Southern United States), so as much as possible could be carried. Getting it out again was a skilled job.

During the 20
th century, ports became more mechanised. The need for stevedores and porters to do manual labour declined. In their place came more crane operators and fork lift truck drivers. Since the 1970s, containerisation has accelerated this change. Containers are now usually filled (or `stuffed and emptied at the customer`s premises. When the container arrives at the port, the object is to get it off or on the ship with the least delay. Vehicles called straddle carriers carry the containers from and to the dockside. Massive cranes then lift them on and off the ship. The owner wants his container ship in port for the least possible time. So ports are judged on how many container movements they can achieve in an hour. Machines, not men, dominate the dockside in the 21st century.Mechanisation

Hamburg Sud-Hapag Lloyd merger talks stymied over control and layoffs

GERMANY's leading ocean carriers, Hamburg Sud and Hapag Lloyd are still at loggerheads in current merger talks over which one will run the combined shipping line, reports London's Containerisation International.

Several well-placed sources said Hamburg Sud will pull out if Hapag Lloyd ends up on top. "If they do not get a majority shareholding, they will just dump it," said one member of Hamburg's inner circle.

Another senior industry figure told Lloyd's List that an agreement may have already been reached on the point, with Hamburg Sud ready to move into Hapag-Lloyd's headquarters.

Disagreement over which side should have the majority interest ended talks earlier merger talks in 1997. Hamburg Sud is smaller, but has no debt while Hapag-Lloyd owes EUR1.8 billion (US$2.4 billion). Another problem is layoffs, which will affect one more than the other.
Together, they would create a carrier that ranked fourth behind Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) and CMA CGM. Merger talks got underway in December and there has been little official word during the due diligence period.

After 2011 losses, CSCL is back in black after sale-leaseback of boxes

China Shipping Container Lines now expects a net profit of CNY520 million (US$83.7 million) for 2012.

AFTER the sale and leaseback of 28 per cent of its own containers, China Shipping Container Lines now expects a net profit of CNY520 million (US$83.7 million) for 2012.
This, after the Hong Kong-listed company posted a net loss of CNY2.7 billion for 2011 and suffered CNY290 million loss in the first three quarters of 2012.
CSCL credited the gain to its own acumen in grasping opportunities by disposing of old containers as well "improved market trends", according to a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
CSCL cashed in US$147 million from selling 295,000 TEU aged between three and eight years and hiring them back in two transactions in November and December.

The November deal, representing 20 per cent of CSCL's boxes, was struck with CDB Leasing, an affiliate of China Development Bank, which incidentally, signed the lesson's first step in the marine containers business.

The sale was arranged by DVB Bank and co-financed by the German bank and the Chinese policy bank, according to a DVB Bank press release.

Alphaliner - TOP 30 Operated fleets as per 23 January 2013

   Existing fleet           
2Mediterranean Shg Co2,248,51713.3%
3CMA CGM Group1,389,901  8.2%
4COSCO Container L.721,296  4.3%
5Evergreen Line718,885  4.3%
6Hapag-Lloyd630,949  3.7%
7APL589,924  3.5%
8Hanjin Shipping576,280  3.4%
9CSCL562,887  3.3%
10MOL509,162  3.0%
11OOCL472,331  2.8%
12Hamburg Süd Group429,176  2.5%
13NYK Line412,859  2.4%
14Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.358,510  2.1%
15K Line352,754  2.1%
16Hyundai M.M.351,925  2.1%
17Zim318,532  1.9%
18PIL (Pacific Int. Line)301,384  1.8%
19UASC272,089  1.6%
20CSAV Group263,384  1.6%
21Wan Hai Lines154,986  0.9%
22HDS Lines86,320  0.5%
23X-Press Feeders Group83,415  0.5%
24TS Lines72,817  0.4%
25NileDutch70,010  0.4%
26SITC60,276  0.4%
27KMTC53,949  0.3%
28RCL (Regional Container L.)51,459  0.3%
29CCNI41,414  0.2%
30Grimaldi (Napoli)40,271  0.2%

Global containership capacity grew 6pc to 16.3 million in 2012