Maersk CEO Soren Skou told investors on August 3 he remained “confident” about the shipping line’s contracted customers sticking with their agreements, despite a backdrop of softer demand and container spot rates declining. He said his confidence in the integrity of the contract business, which now represents some 70 per cent of the carrier’s volumes, was in the make-up of its top-200 client portfolio.

Mr. Skou said: “What’s important to understand when you look at our portfolio today is that it is heavily weighted towards BCOs (Beneficial Cargo Owners), and they have traditionally been quite compliant, and the risk has been more on the volume, not on the price. When it comes to the contracts we now have with global freight forwarders, they have dramatically changed in the way that they are structured, so it is a block space agreement, it is take or pay, and the language is very clear; there is a dead freight provision and we are billing our freight forwarder clients for this, so that is why we believe we will have high contract compliance.”

Maersk recorded a net profit of $8.6 billion in the second quarter, for a half- year result of $15.4 billion, which, to put into context, compares with the $16.9 billion profit it posted for the whole of last year. Moreover, the Danish transport and logistics group advised that its “booking visibility” ensured “an equally good third quarter”, although it did anticipate “a progressive decline” in Q4.

Maersk said the Q2 record result was mainly driven by a “better-than- expected conclusion” for its core contracted business across its liner networks, and it now expects average contract rates this year to be about $1,900 per 40ft higher than a year ago.

It said it had approximately 3.8 million TEUs secured on multi-year contracts and 85 per cent of its short- term or spot bookings were now sourced through its Maersk Spot or Twill online platforms