By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
COPENHAGEN, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk , the world’s largest container shipping group, is ready to use its financial muscle to swallow up struggling competitors as the industry heads for further consolidation, the company’s chairman said.
Earlier on Thursday, in a keenly anticipated revamp aimed at reviving its fortunes, Maersk said it will split itself up and focus on transport and logistics, while seeking a way out of energy.
The global shipping industry is in the middle of its worst downturn in decades, with severe overcapacity at a time when seaborne trade has yet to pick after the financial crisis.
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The Maersk group posted a second-quarter net profit of just $101 million, well below the $196 million expected by analysts.
“We had a quite poor second quarter, but there are players that have it much worse than we do, which we also saw with Hanjin,” Pram Rasmussen told Reuters in an interview.
South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd, the world’s seventh largest container carrier, filed for court receivership in late August.
Rasmussen expects the recent wave of consolidation to intensify, and says Maersk is ready to use its strong financial position – with cash reserves of close to $12 billion – to buy up competitors.
“The Chinese shipping companies are now uniting forces because they are under pressure. In the long run, no one finds it amusing to run a loss-making business,” Pram Rasmussen said.
Maersk said it aims to expand its market share in the shipping industry every year through organic growth, but could grow faster through acquisitions.
“If we are to grow inorganically, our path is to buy existing assets. There are ships enough already,” he said referring to the sector’s current oversupply of new vessels.
“By the end of the year, there will be at least four shipping companies less than when the year started, and I think we’ll see further consolidation.” (Editing by Alexander Smith)
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