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P3 alliance will have no commercial cooperation: Maersk

P3 alliance will have no commercial cooperation: Maersk
AP Moller-Maersk Group has affirmed that there will be no commercial cooperation among its P3 Network alliance members to dominate the container shipping market share, amid concerns raised on potentially breaching competition law and compromising the spirit of free trade

Analysts and industry observers have made projections that the coming together of the world's top three carriers – Maersk Line, CMA CGM, Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) – mean that the P3 alliance would dominate up to 45% of the global boxship market share.

“There is some confusion over the market share because the key thing to understand is that there is no commercial cooperation, so our market share will still be around 14-15% globally, and a little bit higher on the Asia-Europe (trade), so aggregating our market share does not make a lot of sense,” Jakob Stausholm, senior vice president of AP Moller-Maersk Group, told Seatrade Asia Week.

Stausholm highlighted that P3 is “entirely about sharing infrastructure”, and the partnership will see the formation of an independent network center aimed at operating the vessels efficiently and offering better service and reliability to the customers. “If you look at the market overcapacity and the hugely volatile fuel prices, it is in nobody's interest to continue operating in that kind of environment so we hope to provide some kind of stability through P3,” he explained.

With reference to fellow partners CMA CGM and MSC, Stausholm said: “We have always been, and will always be, fierce competitors.”

However, the message from AP Moller-Maersk has not totally allayed concerns of P3 using its massive fleet strength of an initial 255 vessels to edge out other container carriers and smaller alliances.

Frank Lu, chairman and ceo of Yang Ming Marine Transportation Corp, urged fellow container lines to observe the rules of the game by not taking up more than 30% of global market share through an alliance.

“We have no objection on alliances and cooperation, but there should be a need for companies to observe global rules as the regulatory authorities would also want a level playing field based on the spirit of free trade,” Lu told delegates at the World Shipping (China) Summit 2013 held in Ningbo on Thursday. Taiwan's Yang Ming is part of the CKYH Alliance which includes Cosco, K Line and Hanjin Shipping.

P3 is still subject to regulatory approval and if all goes well, it will begin operation in the second quarter of 2014. “We see that the regulatory authorities are looking seriously into this and asking the right questions so we feel that the process is going well,” Stausholm said.