Shipping consultants, Drewry, have joined a growing number of industry voices who believe that German shipping line, Hamburg Süd, will become part of the Ocean Three alliance.
“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,” stated Drewry in its weekly container publication.
The analysts cited examples of cooperation between Hamburg Süd and the Ocean Three, which comprises of CMA CGM, United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) and China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL), on eight separate trade routes.
Apart from a number of slot-exchange agreements, these include the German carrier deploying one vessel each on two new Ocean Three services; a Transpacific (Asia-US East Coast) route and an Asia-US East Coast-Europe trade-lane respectively.
In recent months, the likes of CMA CGM group vice-chairman, Rodolphe Saade, and Hamburg Süd’s executive board chairman, Ottmar Gast, have fuelled speculation of a tie-up.
According to Drewry, “opening the door to another company into your trade via slot charter deals is risky in that new entrants often have to build a presence through low rates.”
However, it also stated that in this case, the risks and rewards are split “pretty equally” and further close cooperation would make the shipping lines “even less likely to undermine each other”.
The consultancy believes that the carriers will test preliminary operations in new markets before taking “the plunge”. These include UASC appointing agencies in South America and Hamburg Süd now operating its first ships in East-West trades.