Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has declined to confirm whether it is behind an order for six 16,000 TEU container ships at China’s Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC).
Over the weekend, DSIC announced the newbuilding order, but stopped short of identifying the customer, which it described as a “European ship owner”.
Market experts however believe that MSC had placed the order, noting that the Swiss-Italian company, the newly minted top liner operator by fleet size, had commissioned similar vessels at DSIC last year.
Maersk Line, having recently exercised options for more 16,000 TEU ships at Hyundai Heavy Industries and CMA CGM, which does not have a history of ordering at DSIC, were ruled out, as was Hapag-Lloyd, which lately took up options for more vessels at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea.
VesselsValue has also attributed ownership of the vessels to MSC.
When contacted by Container News, MSC replied, “MSC declines to comment on specific ship orders.”
Last year, MSC ordered seven 16,000 TEU ships at DSIC, but transferred ownership of five of the vessels to Japanese tonnage provider Doun Kisen and Chinese lessor Minsheng Financial Leasing as part of financing arrangements.
Aggressive fleet expansion, both through newbuilding orders and second-hand ship purchases, saw MSC dethrone Maersk at the top of the rankings. MSC now has a total fleet capacity of 4.3 million TEU and a 72-ship orderbook amounting to 1.1 million TEU.
Flush with cash, MSC has also been expanding into the logistics field, acquiring Brazil’s Log-in Logistica and making a bid for Bollore Logistics’ African division. On 24 January, Italy’s state-owned airline ITA Airways disclosed that it had received a takeover offer from MSC and German airline Lufthansa. MSC said that owning part of ITA Airways could realise synergies between its cargo and passenger shipping businesses.