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Maersk is no longer the world’s largest container line as MSC takes the top spot

MSC has overtaken Maersk as the world’s largest container line by operated container vessel capacity.

Ingo Wagner/Picture Alliance/Getty Images

  • For decades, Maersk was the biggest container line in the world.
  • On Wednesday, Swiss-Italian company MSC claimed the top spot when it took delivery of a container ship.
  • MSC and Maersk each have a market share of 17% in container shipping.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has overtaken Denmark’s Maersk to become the world’s largest container line.

MSC’s rise to the top came on Wednesday when the Swiss-Italian company took delivery of a container ship in Singapore, according to Alphaliner, a maritime consultancy. MSC bought the ship last year for $50.5 million.

With its new acquisition, MSC’s fleet can now carry 4.3 million standard 20-foot containers — about 2,000 more than Maersk.

MSC and Maersk now each have a market share of 17% in container shipping — ahead of CMA CGM, COSCO, and Hapag-Lloyd, according to Alphaliner. Collectively, the world’s top five container shipping lines account for about 65% of the market.

MSC’s move up the chart comes after a bumper year for container shipping as the world grapples with a supply chain crisis. It’s also the first time in decades that Maersk is not at the top of the list.

“Contrary to most other major ocean carriers, which reached their positions in the top ten through a series of mergers and acquisitions, MSC’s rise to the top was entirely organic,” said Alphaliner.

MSC has been adding more container capacity and has bought 128 secondhand container ships in recent years — “an unprecedented number in shipping history,” said Alphaliner.

Meanwhile, Maersk has been aggressively expanding into land logistics and tech, Insider’s Emma Cosgrove reported in October.

Alphaliner expects MSC to continue consolidating its position as the world’s top container shipping line beyond 2022, as it has ordered more ships than other carriers.

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