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Last Man Standing – The evolution of Shipping Lines, Where is the Market Headed?

Last Man Standing – The evolution of Shipping Lines

Where is the Market Headed?

Looking at the list and comparing what this looked like in 2000 compared to 2020, you will notice a significant change in the landscape and players in the market. After overtaking Hapag-Lloyd in the 90’s, MAERSK has maintained its position and is still the largest carrier today but Evergreen has slipped a few notches.

Perhaps more noteworthy is the fact that P&O Nedlloyd no longer exists after it was subsumed as part of Maersk in 2005 and CMA CGM, which itself was born after an acquisition of CGM by CMA and became CMA CGM in 1996, now owns APL – which was itself acquired by Singapore’s NOL group and OOCL is now part of COSCO.

Some names have disappeared altogether. NYK, MOL and K-Line have disappeared as a container brand name and been replaced by the combined entity ONE and this happened just before Hanjin went bust and left its customers in the lurch with cargo stuck on ships all over the world.

Incidentally these 20 largest lines controlled about 50% of the global capacity 20 years ago. The 20 largest lines today control 93%.

Many pundits have been commenting lately about the margins carriers are reporting in H1, 2020 despite the pandemic and the turmoil and disarray supply chains have had to weather but a question we should also ask ourselves is, can you actually blame the carriers for ensuring their survival – or would we prefer to see more casualties at the expense of low shipping rates and margins? It will be interesting to track these changes and developments over the next 12 months and indeed the next two decades.

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