Ja­pan ship­ping merger bodes well for Pi­raeus

Kathimerini English - - Focus - ILIAS BELLOS

The prospect of the merger of three Ja­panese ship­ping com­pa­nies with reg­u­lar con­tainer ship lines, cre­at­ing the third big­gest force in the sec­tor, bodes well for the port of Pi­raeus.

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Lines), Mit­sui OSK Lines (MOL) and Nip­pon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) an­nounced their in­ten­tion to form a joint ven­ture on Mon­day, a move that will cre­ate a new gi­ant in the con­tainer ship­ping in­dus­try that will con­trol a fleet of 134 ves­sels with a ca­pac­ity of 1.054 TEUs, or twenty-foot equiv­a­lent units, and a value of $6.1 bil­lion. Given the al­ready strong pres­ence of K Lines in Pi­raeus and the prospect of at­tract­ing to Greece’s main port its part­ners in the al­liance it has forged – along with Cosco – with Ha­pag-Lloyd and the Yang Ming Line, sources from Pi­raeus Port Au­thor­ity’s new, Cosco-con­trolled ad­min­is­tra­tion note that the de­vel­op­ment is par­tic­u­larly pos­i­tive for Pi­raeus.

Other sources also point out the pres­ence of one of the three Ja­panese firms – Mit­sui OSK Lines – in the list of suit­ors for the 67 per­cent stake in Thes­sa­loniki Port Au­thor­ity (OLTH).

As much Europe-des­tined trade from Asia has been show­ing a pref­er­ence for Mediter­ranean ports over those in North­ern Europe in the last few years, the merger of the three Ja­panese groups is seen as strate­gi­cally ben­e­fi­cial for Greece and its am­bi­tion to be­come the main gate for Asian com­merce to the con­ti­nent.

The new ship­ping gi­ant is ex­pected to legally be­come a sin­gle en­tity from Jan­uary 1 and start op­er­at­ing at the start of the new Ja­panese fi­nan­cial year, nine months later.

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