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Maersk ship docked with mooring lines

A Maersk ship is docked at Haifa Port, which is to be sold to India's Adani Ports and local partner Gadot in Haifa, Israel July 24, 2022. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Maersk Says No Deals For Houthi Militants

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January 9, 2024

By Joe Easton and Christian Wienberg (Bloomberg) A.P. Moller – Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd denied any pact with Yemen’s Houthi rebels to facilitate the safe movement of vessels through the Red Sea, after shares in shipping companies sunk on a report of deals being struck.

Container company stocks were hit by a report in Danish publication ShippingWatch that said meetings between Houthi rebels and shipowners had taken place, and that some safe passage accords had already been agreed upon. The publication didn’t name the companies that had purportedly made the pacts.

Maersk A/S closed down 5.7% in Copenhagen, after earlier falling as much as 8.4%, while Hapag-Lloyd was down 8.2% at 5:15p.m in Frankfurt, after earlier sinking as much as 10.5%. Other companies to see declines included Kuehne & Nagel and Frontline.

A safe passage pact would mean faster sailing distances between Asia and Europe, causing the supply of vessels to jump and shipping rates to likely drop. Stocks of container companies had rallied in recent weeks by predictions that the rebel attacks would see rates go higher as firms avoid the region.

The Houthis have attacked at least 24 merchant ships over the past several weeks, forcing hundreds to instead sail the long way around Africa. Alongside the amount of cargo, voyage distance is another critical metric in ship demand, so the diversions helped to drive shipping costs much higher.

ShippingWatch said the pact would involve shipping companies agreeing to not go to Israel in return for being allowed through safely.

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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