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MSC leads charge as German containership exodus gathers pace

A dearth of larger vessels has shifted buyers' attention to smaller vessels as more German tonnage is sold
29 July 2021 5:59 GMT
16 August 2021 14:59 GMT UPDATED 16 August 2021 15:00 GMT
By Ian Lewis

Tonnage hungry liner operators have bagged a series of vessels from the German market in sale-and-purchase deals focussing on smaller ships.
The move continues a growing exodus of tonnage from German shipowners that has raised questions over the country’s future in container shipping.
The latest batch of ships to be sold to non-German buyers come from smaller tonnage providers including Okee Maritime, HS Schiffahrts and Jebsen Shipping Partners.
Perennially hungry liner operator Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) — which is believed to have purchased more than 100 containerships in the past year — is linked to at least two of the recently sold vessels.
The Geneva-based base liner giant has bought the 1,794-teu Jennifer Schepers (built 2009) for around $21m from Haren-based containership owner HS Schiffahrts, according to European shipbrokers.
The carrier is also understood to have acquired the 1,740-teu Okee Ann Mari (built 2002) for a price in the low $20m range.
That would be the second of Okee’s seven small containerships to be sold this year.
In March, the company sold the 1,400-teu Okee Alba (built 2002), renamed A Makoto, although the vessel remains in the Okee-managed fleet.
TradeWinds has sought comment from the German owners reported to be selling vessels, and MSC does not comment on transactions.
Top dollar
The demand for German-owned containerships has been fuelled by demand from smaller Asian liner operators.
Singapore’s Sea Consortium (Seacon) is paying around $25m to acquire the 1,674-teu Gerrit Braren (built 2006), said brokers.
The new owners are expected to operate in the intra-Asia services of X-Press Feeders, a Seacon-related company that is among the world's largest independent common carriers.
The vessel had previously been operated on behalf of German owners by Jebsen Shipping Partners, a ship management venture formed in 2015 that controls a fleet of 20 feederships.
The growing focus of buyers on smaller vessels below 2,800 teu reflects the dearth of purchase candidates in the larger shipping sizes, brokers believe.
The 1,304-teu Jett (built 2007), owned by Laurel Shipping and managed by the Hamburg-based Schulte Group, was sold an Israeli buyer for more than $19m, brokers said.
That marks a rise on the sale of similar feeder vessels such as the 1,118-teu Vega Fynen (built 2006).
That vessel has been renamed MSC Olga F and was sold in May for a reported $15m.
Other sales include the 650-teu Heung-A Jakarta and Heung-A Manila (both built 1997) for $5.5m each.
The vessels were reported to be sold to Singapore-based Straits Orient Lines (SOL), formerly known as Orient Express Lines, which operates intra-Asia regional services for Transworld Group Singapore.
Fewer charters but still heading upwards
The interest in smaller ships as charter rates continue to climb.
Rates for ships of between 2,000 teu and 3,000 teu have soared as high as $150,000 per day for short periods up to six months.
Smaller ships of 1,700 teu are able to demand up to $120,000 per day for a transpacific round voyage.
That has made it difficult for operators to obtain vessels for longer periods unless prepared to pay top dollar.

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