Another day another potential Alliance reshuffle for the shipping world.

After looking at what was described as the new Mega Alliance between giants Cosco and CMA CGM, the past few weeks has seen rumours surface of a new member in the 2M Alliance.

The industry has seen numerous reports from Korean and European press of Maersk Line and MSC having entered talks with Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. (HMM) to allow the carrier to join the 2M Alliance.

Further rumours surfacing today also point to a Maersk Line acquisition of the debt ridden HMM – a theory that has been denied by both Maersk and HMM respectively. Although a recent interview with Jakob Stausholm in Reuters suggests that Maersk Line may be open to the right acquisition opportunity.

Considering the strength of the 2M Alliance and the difference in culture, size and trade relations, maritime research agency Drewry have hinted that we may not understand the full story.

Could it be that the Korean government, concerned with the crumbling maritime industries, are prepared to offer 2M some hidden benefits for rescuing the ailing carrier?

After all, it hasn’t been plain sailing recently for Korea’s maritime sector. HMM, Hanjin, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung all suffering from the downturn in global shipping. And recent of arrests of the former head of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) on charges of fraud and breach of trust have only worsened the industry’s image.

“According to data released by the nation’s ship owners’ association, if the two shipping carriers fold, the consequences would include the loss of 5,400 jobs and damage to the country’s economy worth a total of $19.13 billion.” – Korea Times

With the Korean economy so reliant on the maritime sector it is no surprise the government has stepped in with a number of measures to help the struggling carriers. One of the clauses included in the rescue plan stipulates the need for HMM to join a shipping alliance and after unsuccessful talks with THE Alliance it looks as the 2M may be HMM’s next hope as the G6 runs out in 2017.

Sources: WSJ, Korea Times, HMM

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