The Chief Executive of AP Moller-Maersk, the container shipping sector’s dominant company, has given his perspective on what the future will hold for the industry, coinciding with a positive outlook from analysts.
Soren Skou told the Financial Times that the consolidation trend in the past 24 months that has seen eight of the top 20 container shipping companies become acquired or go bankrupt would continue.
Skou said: “My prediction would be that the industry would consolidate further. A decade from now, we would be more in the five to six range.”
Container shipping has suffered from oversupply since the financial crisis, with many companies surviving by consolidating through alliances, mergers and acquisitions.
Global shipping analyst Drewry recently said that the trend would result in an oligopoly-like situation similar to the one Skou has described.
But this overhaul in world container trade seems to have set the sector back on track as Drewry has upgraded its outlook for the rest of 2017.
Drewry’s port statistics from a sample of almost 150 sites around the world indicate that container handling grew by 6.6% in the first six months of 2017, while deep-sea and regional trade numbers are showing similar progress.
In its Container Insight Weekly, Drewry said it had “little doubt” that the final-year figure will be an improvement on the past two years, resulting 2017 being the fastest growing year since 2011.
It added that the outcome would be more companies building up stocks and calling upon the services of shipping lines.
Drewry said: “We expect the second half of the year to deliver similar volumes as the first half, although because of the tougher comparisons the growth rate might not be quite as strong.
“The surge of online shopping now means that buying patterns are spread more evenly through the year.
“Although there are still a few regional laggards the recovery in container demand clearly has substance and comes at an opportune time for carriers that are taking delivery of big new ships.”