Speculation about Hamburg Süd joining Ocean3 grows
Such an alliance could have a "competitive edge," according to industry consultant Drewry.Could the Ocean Three become the Ocean Four?
While Hamburg Süd is increasing its involvement in the major east-west trades, Ottmar Gast, the German carrier's chief executive officer told Lloyd's List there is no formal negotiation underway for the German carrier to join the Ocean3 alliance between CMA CGM, China Shipping Container Line and UASC.
But Hamburg-Süd also indicated last month the reason for its growing involvement in the east-west trades is "to expand the liner network and leverage the resulting logistical advantages."
"It now only seems a matter of time before these carriers make the formal announcement that Hamburg Süd is to become a fully-fledged member of Ocean Three, or Ocean Four as it will presumably have to be re-named,” said Drewry this week in Container Insight Weekly.
Hamburg-Süd said since collaborating with UASC earlier this year it has been "able to reduce its dependency on South America and offer its customers an extended network that is well accepted. It also allows the shipping group to tap new growth and cost reduction potential both on shore and at sea."
Information from ocean schedule and capacity database BlueWater Reporting shows that of the 55 services across 25 primary trade lanes on which Hamburg Süd provides vessels or takes slots, one or more of the Ocean3 carriers participate on 25 of them.
Seven of the 25 shared loops belong to the Ocean3 Alliance network, which operates services between Asia and North America, Asia and North Europe and Asia and the Mediterranean region.
Those 25 loops deploy 210 vessels with a combined average capacity of 149,627 TEUs, compared to 397 vessels with a total average weekly capacity of 271,484 TEUs in the overall 55 joint services in which Hamburg Süd participates.
Hamburg Süd partners with CMA CGM on 24 routes, with China Shipping on 13 loops, and with UASC on eight services.
"There is quite a bit of overlap," notes Ben Meyer, Container Analytics columnist for American Shipper. "CSCL only participates in one service with Hamburg Süd that does not also include CMA or UASC, and UASC doesn't participate in any without one of the other Ocean3 members."
Drewry believes a combination of the four carriers would be “logical” and said even while such an alliance would remain much smaller in total capacity terms than the 2M Alliance between Maersk and MSC, "it would have a distinct competitive edge thanks to its unique mix of east-west and north-south services, which could force the other mega-alliances to follow suit.”