Transport Takeover

Shipping News: Maersk to Buy Hamburg Süd

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Hamburg Süd’s takeover could help to reduce overcapacity in the container shipping industry and ultimately make the sector more profitable.

  • Facts


    • The container shipping industry has struggled the past few years as it faces an oversupply of shipping capacity, pushing global container freight rates down by roughly 25 percent since the start of 2012.
    • Hamburg Süd is Germany’s second-largest shipping group after Hapag Lloyd and fully owned by Oetker Group, a family-held conglomerate.
    • The shipping industry’s largest players are Copenhagen-listed Maersk, Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Company, French company CMA CGM, and Chinese shipping combination COSCO/CSCL.
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Family-owned Hamburg Süd will become part of the world leader, Copenhagen-listed Maersk. Source: Marcus Brandt, DPA

Danish shipping giant Maersk said Thursday it had agreed to buy German rival Hamburg Süd in a deal that will combine the world’s largest and seventh-largest shippers, in another sign of consolidation among container shippers.

Maersk said it had signed a preliminary agreement to buy Hamburg Süd from its owner, Germany’s Oetker Group, a family-owned conglomerate based in Bielefeld that also makes frozen pizzas, puddings and other processed foods.

Copenhagen-based Maersk and privately-held Oetker did not release financial details of the transaction, which still must be approved by European antitrust officials. Hamburg Süd had around $6.7 billion in sales in 2015. The company has a fleet of 189 cargo ships, about 48 of which it owns. The container shipping arm of Maersk, Maersk Line, had turnover of $23.7 billion last year.

The merger is the latest consolidation in global shipping, which has been suffering amid a downturn in global trade ever since the 2008 financial crisis.

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