COSCO’s takeover of OOCL has been approved by Chinese anti-trust authorities a day earlier than the intended deadline of June 30, according to Tradewinds.
By merging with OOCL, COSCO’s new combined fleet of around 400 vessels will manage an annual capacity of more than 2.7 million TEU, which, according to shipping analyst Alphaliner’s data, will push it ahead of CMA CGM to make it the third largest ocean carrier in the world.
It was predicted that COSCO could have faced large fines if it had fallen short of the merger’s agreed deadline.
An Alphaliner newsletter in April stated: “OOIL will receive a break fee of $253 million if COSCO fails to complete the deal by the deadline, but the fee would be waived if the transaction 'failed to meet the requirements of CFIUS', even though the CFIUS clearance was not listed as one of the five pre-conditions for the offer from COSCO.”
COSCO snaps at Maersk’s heels with its takeover of OOCL
Its takeover of OOCL will help it in this aim. It places it head and shoulders above its Ocean Alliance partners CMA CGM and Evergreen in terms of size. Post takeover, COSCO will own 49% of the Ocean Alliance fleet by value, 54% by TEU and will own 51% of the vessels by number, according to VesselsValue figures.
The merger brings COSCO closer in capacity compared to Maersk Line, PIC 2 boosting its fleet to 225 vessels at 1.75M TEU, compared to its fleet of 1.64M TEU and 122 vessels without OOCL’s ships.
The gap will hugely narrow when COSCO’S newbuilding orderbook is taken into account.
Its 374,534 TEU on order is considerably more than Maersk’s newbuilding orderbook at just over 96,000 TEU. Once added, COSCO’s fleet at 2.13M TEU will be even closer to Maersk’s 2.37M TEU when both current and orderbook ships are combined.
But it is not just about fleet size. OOCL is a wise choice. It has a strong record for above-average profits in a difficult market.
And it is not just the takeover of OOCL that I think will push it above Maersk – COSCO has a major role in China’s Belt and Road initiative, with its port division aggressively buying stakes in Europe and elsewhere.
That will help propel it up the ranks to top of the league.