- Representatives from Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), Maersk Line, and MSC officially signed the 2M+H Strategic Cooperation agreement Thursday, according to a press release from HMM.
- The announcement revealed HMM would bolster its East-West trade services by one loop, and bolster its basic slot allocation by 20%, with allocations to the U.S. West Coast expected to increase by 50%. The 2M+H agreement also allows HMM to engage in slot exchanges with 2M members on select trade lanes
- The three services operated by HMM will call upon the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma and Vancouver.
It's been a long ride for HMM as the ocean transport industry continues to struggle with overcapacity, but as the industry reshuffles its ports of calls and alliances this April, circumstances are beginning to look up for the beleaguered Korean carrier.
Just a few months ago, HMM was deemed too much of a financial risk to join fully with 2M, instead being forced to settle for a slot sharing agreement. Whereas the downsized agreement may seem a consolation prize, the carrier has been able to take advantage of limited participation to focus on regional shipments and terminal acquisitions, bracing for its dream to become a major global carrier.
Since that time, the company has experienced not only an influx of cash from the Korea Shipping and Marine Fund ($602 millions-worth), but has also formed a regional alliance (HMM+K2) with Korean carriers Heung-A Shipping and Sinokor Merchant Marine, called HMM+K2, set to launch this month. HMM+K2's services will cover Japan, China Southeast, and Southwest Asia.
Overall, the revelation of ports of calls and new services sets the stage for Asia-Pacific shippers to begin recontracting in the search for the best rates. Each new alliance has detailed its service network now, and while major acquisitions (like Hamburg Sud) have yet to close, the fog over the new world of shipping is beginning to clear. That is, until the next major acquisition.