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Drewry: Ocean Carriers to Profit Through Oligopoly

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Drewry has stated that container shipping companies are on track to achieve sustainable profitability through oligopolization, as 10 carriers move towards controlling approximately 82% of the world fleet.

The proposed $6.3 billion sale of Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas International to Chinese state-owned Cosco Shipping and Shanghai International Port Group recently took the industry closer to this reality.

Another factor yet to take hold is the latest M&A, the Ocean Network Express, which is being presided over by several competition authorities.

Drewry's Container Insight Weekly warned that 10 carriers would control a minimum 2% share of global capacity by the start of 2021, compared to 17 carriers in 2015.

Drewry commented: “Shippers are getting used to consolidation in the container industry. That doesn’t mean they have to like it. As their pool of carriers shrinks they are more likely to lobby anti-competition regulators to step in.

“Recent container M&A such as Maersk Line’s recent takeover of Hamburg Süd and the proposed ONE merger of Japanese carriers have all encountered minor regulatory issues so any future deals may have to contend with conditions being applied that make them less attractive to conclude.

“The onus will be on carriers to disprove any form of collusive oligopoly is occurring.”

Drewry recently reported that idle containership fleets have declined by 70% from 1.7 million TEU in November 2016 to under 500,000 TEU as of June 2017.

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