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MSC heads for top liner ranking following poaching of Maersk's Soren Toft

DANISH shipping giant Maersk's cuts in capital expenditure, including its decision not to order new vessels in the next two years, will clear the way for MSC to take over as the top-ranked ocean carrier, according to Alphaliner, reports The Loadstar, UK

24 November 2019 - 19:00

DANISH shipping giant Maersk's cuts in capital expenditure, including its decision not to order new vessels in the next two years, will clear the way for MSC to take over as the top-ranked ocean carrier, according to Alphaliner, reports The Loadstar, UK.

Sources suggested that this 'profit over market share' strategy by the Danish transport group may have contributed to its chief operating officer, Soren Toft, being head-hunted by MSC as its new CEO.



During Maersk's Q3 earnings call, chief financial officer Carolina Dybeck Happe confirmed the company would maintain its 'strong commitment to capital discipline', setting a combined capex limit for 2020 and 2021 of US$3-$4 billiion.



Alphaliner noted that the expenditure limit was below the group's annual depreciation of about $3 billion per year, excluding leases, and thus would 'result in a shrinking asset base for the company over the next two years'.



Ms Dybeck Happe also confirmed: 'There are no intentions now to invest in any large vessels,' and that the strategy of its ocean sector was to 'grow in line with the market, or slightly below, in the next couple of years'.



According to Alphaliner data, Maersk's rivals have 'continued to gain ground' in terms of vessel capacity, with MSC and Cosco expanding by 1.1 per cent and 1 per cent respectively in the past year. This compares with the Danish carrier's 1.5 per cent contraction.



And, with its orderbook of 304,000 TEU, MSC will be at least on par with its 2M partner in capacity terms by 2021, if Maersk sticks to its capacity limit of 4 million TEU.



Meanwhile, The Loadstar understands that lawyers in Copenhagen and Geneva are thrashing out the details of Mr Toft's new contract with MSC and the terms of his exit from Maersk. It was announced by MSC that Mr Toft and his family would be relocating to Geneva and that his start date would be 'communicated in due course'.



Effectively, Mr Toft is on 'gardening leave' from Maersk while the legal issues are agreed, but one source told The Loadstar that Maersk 'would not make it easy' and that the poaching of this star executive had left a 'bitter taste' in the day-to-day 2M relationship.


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