AP Moller-Maersk and MSC to drift apart after a decade-long partnership

AP Moller-Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the world’s largest container lines, will end a partnership of pooling cargo on their vessels after a decade as their rivalry in global logistics intensifies. 

The 2M alliance, a capacity-sharing agreement that the companies formed in 2015, will stop in two years so the two can “pursue their individual strategies,” according to a joint statement from Maersk and MSC. 

Maersk shares fell as much as 4.9 per cent in Copenhagen after the announcement amid concerns that the split may lead to renewed overcapacity and falling freight rates. 

“What we need now is to focus on integrating our ocean operations with those on land,” Johan Sigsgaard, Maersk’s chief product officer for ocean, said by phone. “We’re taking back more control, which we need, especially on our backbone east-west trade lane from Asia.” 

Maersk is transforming from a shipping line to a transport company handling almost the entire supply chain for its customers. Privately-owned MSC, based in Geneva, has the industry’s largest order book for new ships and supplanted Maersk a year ago to become the No. 1 container carrier measured by total owned and chartered capacity. 

In recent years, both Maersk and MSC have pursued growth in land-based transport and air freight where profit margins for end-to-end services are higher. They have done so partly through a series of acquisitions, financed by record profits from booming container freight rates. 

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