Update: This post has been updated to include a statement by Hyundai Merchant Marine disputing the JOC report. HMM assures discussions will be finalized by early December and official positions have not changed.
- The 2M Alliance will not include Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), the Journal of Commerce reported Friday after obtaining confirmation of a statement by Maersk Line.
- Instead, HMM could collaborate with Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) through a slot purchase agreement, wherein Maersk could take over HMM's chartered vessels and slots, primarily in the Trans-Pacific Trade.
- HMM disputed the reports in an e-mail to Supply Chain Dive on Sunday, noting the details of a potential alliance will be finalized late November or early December. "We go over the specifics in various forms and slot charter/exchange can be considered like other alliance normally does," according to the e-mail.
HMM only added 2% capacity to the 2M alliance, and though the addition of the South Korean shipper was expected by many, no deal has been finalized. A representative from Maersk told an agent at HMM's office the statement was issued to update clients on the progress of the discussions, but did not reflect a change in position.
"I wish to reiterate that we as Maersk Line are fully committed to the ongoing discussions about our future cooperation," Maersk Line's Anders Boenaes told HMM's Sangsik Lee in an e-mail.
The potential reversal of expectations regarding HMM's incorporation into the 2M alliance occurred just days after the shipping line failed to win a bid for Hanjin's assets in court.
While the two events can only be linked by speculation, Hanjin's Trans-Pacific assets could have upgraded HMM to become roughly the tenth largest shipper by capacity, and more importantly they could have provided the South Korean carrier with a terminal at the Port of Long Beach. Maersk Line and MSC had both shown interest in these assets.
The potential switch to a slot purchase agreement over a vessel sharing agreement, the Journal of Commerce notes, would liberate the carrier's finances to focus on renovating its fleet to the larger vessels currently in demand. The South Korean government recently approved an order of 20 13,000 TEU such vessels to help HMM's competitiveness.
The news may not indicate a change in the status quo, but it shows a preference by Maersk and MSC to expand their alliance's capacity through acquisitions rather than partnerships.