China Merchants Bank’s leasing unit, CMB Financial Leasing (CMBFL), has ordered two 16,000 teu vessels from Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI) for long-term lease to MSC.
GSI, which is part of China State Shipbuilding Corp, said the dual-fuel vessels would be sisters to the six ships MSC contracted in March.
CMB vice chairman Liu Peng said the company had financed more than 10 vessels for MSC and “forged a deep friendship” with the Swiss-Italian liner operator, which is closing in on Maersk’s top position among container carriers.
GSI chief accountant Liu Hui noted that this order was the yard’s first for CMBFL. The newbuilding price was not disclosed, but it is likely to be higher than the previous order’s unit price of $116.9 million.
MSC’s initial order for six vessels was GSI’s first for container ships, having previously concentrated on building tankers, semi-submersible platforms and ro-ro vessels. Amid weak demand for tankers due to low oil prices, GSI decided that it needed to expand its portfolio.
MSC now has an operating capacity of 4.08 million teu, from 197 owned and 416 chartered vessels, and Alphaliner says there are 47 vessels, for 852,020 teu, on order. Although it is unclear whether these include those acquired through leasing or bareboat charter agreements with Chinese lessors and others, such as Cido Shipping and Eastern Pacific Shipping. Unless Maersk embarks on an aggressive vessel acquisition program, newbuildings will allow MSC to outperform its alliance partner.
In addition, MSC has been the most active in buying secondhand vessels, with at least 60 acquired since last September.
In June, it ordered four 24,200 teu vessels, split equally between two other CSSC yards, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding and Jiangnan Shipyard. Financing for these vessels will come from ICBC Financial Leasing and CSSC’s leasing unit, CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping.