HMM leads as South Korea embarks on state-backed box fleet expansion

   Release date: April 16, 2024      Hits: 8518    Comment: 0    
Note: HMM said today it would increase its box ship fleet to 130, with a combined capacity of 1.5m teu, by 2030, from today

HMM said today it would increase its box ship fleet to 130, with a combined capacity of 1.5m teu, by 2030, from today's 84-ship fleet of 920,000 teu.

Part of its “mid- to-long-term strategy for 2030”, the boost aims to pre-empt the “rapidly changing environment”, particularly the container shipping alliance shake-up, because THE Alliance – of which HMM is part – will lose Hapag-Lloyd in February to the new Gemini Cooperation with Maersk.

HMM added that it planned to grow its market share by diversifying routes and its service network, and South Korea's largest shipping group plans to also increase its bulk carrier fleet, from 36 ships of 6.3m dwt, to 110 of 12.28m dwt, by 2030.

And, in line with the diversification of its container shipping routes, HMM plans to boost its logistics infrastructure by acquiring more terminals, and wants to bring forward its decarbonisation targets from 2050 to 2045.

It said: “We're improving our responsiveness to global environmental regulations by building eco-friendly ships and securing a sustainable fuel supply chain to boost energy efficiency.”

HMM's announcement coincided with the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries unveiling a $2.5bn injection into South Korea's shipping industry to avert a container shipping tonnage overhang.

South Korea's president, Yoon Suk-yeol, announced this month that he wanted the national container shipping fleet to hit 2m teu by 2030, implying that the other 500,000 teu would be owned by SM Line and other local feeder operators.

Oceans and fisheries minister Kang Do-hyung said: “Amid the growing uncertainties over the global economy, even Maersk Line, the world's second-largest container shipping company suffered a loss. The government and the private sector will jointly reform domestic shipping companies so the nation's shipping industry can overcome the current crisis and grow further.”

Mr Kang said his ministry was continuing talks with agencies to explore new opportunities to offload the state's interest in HMM, following an aborted attempt to divest the state's shares to a consortium of Harim Group and JKL Partners.

Vice-minister Song Myung-dal said last week about $200m in financial support would be offered to small and mid-sized shipping companies, just under $2bn would be used to build eco-friendly ships and over $900m will be spent on building green bunkering infrastructure.

Mr Song also said the Ministry of Economy and Finance was inclined to extend South Korea's tonnage tax system that allows shipping companies to be taxed on their net tonnage, rather than their profits, to make the tonnage tax burden lighter than corporate taxes.

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