The prospect of the merger of three Japanese shipping companies with regular container ship lines, creating the third biggest force in the sector, bodes well for the port of Piraeus.
Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Lines), Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) announced their intention to form a joint venture on Monday, a move that will create a new giant in the container shipping industry that will control a fleet of 134 vessels with a capacity of 1.054 TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalent units, and a value of $6.1 billion. Given the already strong presence of K Lines in Piraeus and the prospect of attracting to Greece’s main port its partners in the alliance it has forged – along with Cosco – with Hapag-Lloyd and the Yang Ming Line, sources from Piraeus Port Authority’s new, Cosco-controlled administration note that the development is particularly positive for Piraeus.
Other sources also point out the presence of one of the three Japanese firms – Mitsui OSK Lines – in the list of suitors for the 67 percent stake in Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH).
As much Europe-destined trade from Asia has been showing a preference for Mediterranean ports over those in Northern Europe in the last few years, the merger of the three Japanese groups is seen as strategically beneficial for Greece and its ambition to become the main gate for Asian commerce to the continent.
The new shipping giant is expected to legally become a single entity from January 1 and start operating at the start of the new Japanese financial year, nine months later.