hamburg sud

Danish shipping operator Maersk Line wants to buy its German competitor Hamburg Süd in a bid to boost trade with Latin America, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Maersk Line, the shipping arm of Denmark’s A.P. Moeller-Maersk, is interested in buying the whole Hamburg Süd business, according to the newspaper – an attractive proposition given that the German company had a revenue of $6.7 billion (£5.39bn) in 2015.

Hamburg-Süd, which is part of the family-owned Oetker Group, is the world’s seventh-largest container operator in terms of capacity.

The Oetker family has reportedly been in discussions about selling its shipping operation as early as this year, and the Wall Street Journal claims the family is likely to make decision on whether or not to sell this week.

Maersk, which transports around 15 per cent of the world’s sea freight, announced in September that it was looking for acquisitions to boost its market share and tackle the overcapacity that has hampered the shipping industry in recent years.

The container shipping industry is struggling due to an excess of vessels and weak trade growth, encouraging shipping firms to undercut one another with the rates they offer customers.

These difficult conditions have also sparked consolidation in the industry. Last year French operator CMA CGM bought Singapore’s Neptune Orient Lines for $2.4bn (£1.93bn) and in October this year Japan’s three largest shipping firms announced a merger of their shipping operations, the Wall Street Journal reported.

These acquisitions have left Hamburg Süd and Israeli company Zim Integrated Shipping Services as the last two container-shipping lines without a partner, according to the newspaper.