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Alphaliner: MSC is now the largest ocean carrier by operated vessel capacity

07 Jan 2022

Online shipping database Alphaliner on Wednesday (5 January) published a report on LinkedIn highlighting growth of the Mediterranean Shipping Company fleet:

January 05, 2022

Global ocean fleet statistics of Alphaliner show that the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is now the world’s largest ocean carrier by operated container vessel capacity.

Some 52 years after its foundation in 1970, MSC, the long-term number two, today on 5 January 2022 overtook Maersk Group of Denmark as the world’s biggest container line.

As of today, MSC deploys a fleet of 645 container ships with a total capacity of 4,284,728 teu. The company therewith holds a global market share of 17.0%.

Contrary to most other major ocean carriers, which reached their positions in the top ten through a series of mergers and acquisitions, MSC’s rise to the top was entirely organic.

In recent years, MSC has shown strong growth, mainly through the phase-in of large newbuilt container vessels. Since 2020, the Swiss company has also grown significantly through the rapid acquisition of 128 secondhand container vessels: An unprecedented number in shipping history.

In the first quarter of 2022, MSC is expected to close its first carrier acquisition and buy a 67% majority stake in the Brazilian regional and domestic shipping and logistics firm Log-In Logistica. This will add a further ca. 15,000 teu of capacity to the fleet of MSC Group.

Starting out in 1970 with a German-built second-hand vessel of just 2,900 dwt, acquired from Hapag-Lloyd and renamed PATRICIA, MSC flourished and over the years developed into a massive group.

The Geneva-based MSC Group holds diversified interests in liner shipping (MSC, WEC Lines, Medlog, Linea Messina), terminals (TIL, MSC), ropax ferries (GNV), fast ferries (SNAV), logistics (Medlog), cruises (MSC cruises), and other related fields.

In December of 2021, MSC signed an agreement with the French Bolloré Group to acquire Bolloré Africa Logistics, a logistics provider and terminal operator in Africa on the basis of an enterprise value, net of minority interests, of EUR 5.70 bn (USD 6.43 BN).

With a confirmed vessel order book of almost exactly 1,000,000 teu, the largest of all carriers, MSC is expected to further consolidate its position as the world’s largest container line over the course of 2022.

An up-to-date overview of the largest container lines can be found online at https://alphaliner.axsmarine.com/PublicTop100/.

Background information

Some media outlets wrongly claimed that MSC has already taken the number one spot in late November or mid-December. Alphaliner dismisses these reports as incorrect. These sources typically ignore the time lag from the agreement to acquire a secondhand ship to the actual on-hire and delivery to the new operator.

Furthermore, some sources incorrectly reported that MSC had already acquired Log-In Logistica and the related vessel capacity. This is not true. The Log-In Logistica Board of Directors approved an unsolicited offer to acquire a 67% stake by MSC on 21 December 2021, but the actual takeover is only expected to close in the first quarter of 2022.

Similarly, the fleet capacity of Linea Messina (ca. 23,000 teu) is not counted toward the MSC total, since MSC only controls a 49% minority stake.

MSC is now the largest ocean carrier by operated container vessel capacity. This includes vessels under MSC ownership and vessels that MSC charters-in or leases from third-party owners.

Alphaliner consolidates the capacities of all operated vessels under company groups. For MSC this includes a small number of ships of the intra-Europe carrier WEC Lines, as well as a small number of vessels operated by Medlog.

In the first days of 2022 MSC narrowed Maersk’s capacity lead by taking delivery of further ships that it had already acquired second-hand last year. These include the 1,118 teu MSC ADA F (ex ADAM PEARL), the 1,087 teu MSC MANASA F (ex ALION) and the 2,732 teu MSC GIADA III (ex SCIO SKY).

The vessel finally making the difference was the 4,992 teu MEXICO which was until recently on charter to Maersk.

MSC had already bought this vessel from the non-operating owner XT Shipping in June 2021 for USD 50.5 M. The MEXICO arrived at Singapore anchorage on 30 December and was handed over to MSC a few days later. The 2020-built Panamax vessel will leave Singapore in the early morning of 6 January under her new name MSC MEXICO.

For a period of some weeks, the capacity gap between MSC and Maersk Group is expected to remain tight, so that daily fleet fluctuations from charter on-hires and off hires could – theoretically – see Maersk Group move ahead again for short periods of time.

MSC is however expected to become a permanent number one in the first half of 2022, when numerous large newbuilt container ships are scheduled to be delivered to the carrier.


Photo credit: MSC
Source: Alphaliner
Published: 7 January, 2022

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