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Ocean carriers return to core competencies

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
October 10, 2013

According to analysts with Drewry Maritime Resarch, ocean cargo container lines are still being squeezed out of providing “home-grown” integrated logistics services. This is evidenced by Maersk’s news last month that it has entered into an agreement to sell the assets of its U.S. trucking subsidiary Bridge Terminal Transport, analysts add.

“Although partly driven by financial necessity, the ocean carrier trend appears to recognize that one-stop shops are not the way forward,” says Neil Dekker, head of Drewry Container Research. “That expansion via vertical integration should be replaced by greater focus on the provision of core services.”

Industry analysts contend that this is hardly a new trend, but rather one that has only been gaining traction this year. For example, in June Maersk announced the sale of its European railway company ERS Railways to Freightliner. In May Zim Line sold its holdings in two companies that own container manufacturing factories in China. In April MSC announced the sale of 35% of its ports division Terminal Investments Limited to Global Infrastructure Partners, and in January, CMA CGM declared the sale of 49% of its container terminal operating company Terminal Link to China Merchants Holding (International).

Much earlier, in 2010, Maersk already sold its stake in the logistics company Trans Siberian Express Service to InterRail, while others started reducing their involvement in third party logistics services even before then.

The implication is that the provision of “home grown” integrated logistics services by ocean carriers is becoming a distant dream that is unlikely to be resurrected in the near future, says Dekker.

“This will bring a smile to freight forwarders and independent third party logistics companies who have been arguing for years that ocean carriers should stay out of logistics, for which being asset light has many advantages,” he says.

About the Author

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Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Article Topics

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