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COPENHAGEN, Nov 27 (Reuters) – Major ship brokerage firm Maersk Broker is looking into possible mergers and joint ventures after a spate of deals in the broking industry which is gearing up for a revival in the international shipping business after a five-year downturn.
Earlier this month, London-based ICAP said it was in talks to combine ICAP Shipping with Howe Robinson Group and ship broker Clarkson is seeking to buy Norwegian brokerage and investment bank RS Platou.
In July, ACM Shipping Group and Braemar Shipping Services’ shipbroking arm Braemar Seascope completed a merger deal.
“We are looking into different kind of possibilities,” Maersk Broker Chief Executive Anders Hald said when asked by Reuters for his reaction to the industry consolidation. He said Maersk Broker could look at mergers or joint ventures.
“We face growing demands from customers and the trend is that the biggest brokerage firms get bigger,” Hald said. “We will come out with a very satisfactory result for 2014 but we must continually position ourselves for the future.”
He emphasised that privately-held Maersk Broker was not up for sale and it would continue to buy and sell vessels and act as broker between shipowners, charterers and shipbuilders.
The shipping industry has had to try to absorb a glut of new vessels ordered between 2007 and 2009 just as the financial crisis hit. This plunged shipping into one of its worst ever downturns. This year, a revival in global trade is helping to improve conditions for shipping firms and has also spurred the run of deals, with ship brokers seeking greater scale to help them to benefit from a market recovery.
Copenhagen-based Maersk Broker is one of the world’s top five ship brokerages. It is wholly owned by the Maersk family, which is also in charge of the foundation which controls the majority of voting rights in conglomerate A.P Moller-Maersk .
For its first 75 years, Maersk Broker focused on serving companies in the Maersk group but the business has expanded in the last 25 years to offer services to other companies.
(Reporting by Ole Mikkelsen. Editing by Jane Merriman)
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