Denmark's Maersk and Swiss-based MSC, the world's largest container shipping companies, said on Wednesday they had agreed to end a vessel sharing alliance in January 2025, allowing them to pursue individual strategies.
The 2M alliance was introduced in 2015 to cope with a glut of ships and weak demand, and to ensure competitive and cost-efficient operations on main shipping routes from Asia to Europe, as well as across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Both companies saw the alliance as a way to manage more capacity after purchasing new mega-ships.
More recently, MSC responded to rising shipping rates caused by pandemic-related delays and bottlenecks by increasing the size of its fleet, while Maersk has kept its fleet size mostly steady.
"Today, we have a much different strategy, where we more look at how to integrate container shipping at sea with our land-based logistics business," Maersk's head of ocean shipping Johan Sigsgaard told Reuters in an interview.
"Operating our own network gives us more flexibility and allows us to connect our ships exactly where we want," he said.
Maersk expects to be able to deliver ocean shipping at the same scale when the partnership with MSC ends without rising the cost of moving each container at sea, Sigsgaard said.
Shares in the company fell after the announcement and were trading 3.6% lower at 1103 GMT.
MSC said in a statement that "we continue to strengthen and modernize our fleet, providing us with the scale we need for the most comprehensive ocean and short-sea shipping network in the market."
MSC, privately owned by the Aponte family, overtook Maersk as the world's biggest container in 2021. Both companies hold market share of around 17%.
"We have been fighting fiercely over customers and market share the last eight years. I don't see increased competition as a result of this," Sigsgaard said.