Maersk and MSC end 2M Alliance
Swiss-Italian Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) and Denmark’s Maersk announced this week that they have agreed to end a vessel sharing alliance in January 2025. The news does not come as a real surprise as many industry watches were already speculating the demise of the alliance in the latter half of 2022.
The 2M alliance was introduced in 2015 to cope with a glut of ships and weak demand, and to ensure competitive and cost-efficient operations on main shipping routes from Asia to Europe, as well as across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Both companies saw the alliance as a way to manage more capacity after purchasing mega-ships and now will pursue their own individual strategies.
More recently, MSC responded to rising shipping rates caused by pandemic-related delays and bottlenecks by increasing the size of its fleet, while Maersk has kept its fleet size mostly steady.
“Today, we have a much different strategy, where we look at how to integrate container shipping at sea with our land-based logistics business,” said Maersk’s head of ocean shipping Johan Sigsgaard. “Operating our own network gives us more flexibility and allows us to connect our ships exactly where we want,” he said in a recent interview.
Maersk expects to be able to deliver ocean shipping at the same scale when the partnership with MSC ends without raising the cost of moving each container at sea, Mr Sigsgaard said.
According to a statement from MSC: “We continue to strengthen and modernise our fleet, providing us with the scale we need for the most comprehensive ocean and short-sea shipping network in the market.” MSC, privately owned by the Aponte family, overtook Maersk as the world’s biggest container in 2021. Both companies hold market share of 17 per cent.
“We have been fighting fiercely over customers and market share for the last eight years. I don’t see increased competition as a result of this,” said Mr Sigsgaard.