By Alexander Whiteman

Maersk Line is to pay $4.03 billion to acquire Hamburg Süd, following approval from the boards of both carriers. The takeover, announced in December, had been expected to cost $3.2-$5.4 billion and create $350-400 million in annual operational synergies.

However, one banking source told The Loadstar the numbers seemed “somewhat low”, and suggested the savings could be as much as $500 million a year. “I believe the company is giving a lower number here and it will be materially higher than market expectations,” the source added. Jefferies equity analyst Dave Kersetens agreed, saying $350-400 million was at the lower end of his $300-500 million prediction.

Under the deal, still subject to regulatory approval, Hamburg Süd will maintain its own structure and brand, with Maersk expecting high customer retention. Chairman Ottmar Gast said he saw the acquisition as a natural development and was “convinced” Hamburg Süd would continue to thrive. “It will maintain not only the services offered to its customers, but also provide its employees a fantastic opportunity to continue shaping the future of the industry,” he added.

The deal will give Maersk 18.7 per cent of global capacity, with 743 containerships providing 3.9 million TEUs of space according to the line, although Alphaliner puts this figure nearer the 3.3 million TEU mark.

Chief Executive of Maersk Line and AP Møller Soren Skou said the carrier’s due diligence confirmed Hamburg Süd was a well-run company with “strong and highly respected brands”. He added: “I have no doubt that together we can develop new competitive products to the benefit of our customers and exploit operational synergies. The acquisition is cementing our position as the largest and leading carrier in container shipping, and it will provide great opportunities for the employees of both companies.”

The combined network will offer increased sailings, faster transit times, more port calls (including direct port-to-port) and less need for transhipment services.

Following U.S. Department of Justice and EU Commission approval, Maersk expects to complete the deal by the end of the year.

Reprinted courtesy of The Loadstar (