COSCO and Shanghai International Port (Group) Co., Ltd. have made a joint offer to purchase OOCL for $6.3 billion, a move that would create the second largest ocean carrier to serve the United States. Mediterranean Shipping Co. would continue on as the largest carrier, with 9.9 percent of all US exports and imports. The combined COSCO/OOCL containership fleet will total more than 400 vessels with a capacity of over 2.9 million TEU, according to American Shipper.
COSCO and OOCL remained quiet amid rampant speculation in the weeks leading up to the announcement. Reports hinted at a $4 billion price tag for OOCL, as COSCO pursued plans to boost its fleet to more than 2 million TEU by the end of 2018. The $6.3b sale price, which is larger than expected, reflects a price per share of USD $10.07. COSCO will own 90.1 percent of OOCL, while SIPG will hold the remaining 9.9 percent. OOCL is recognized as a well-run carrier that weathered recent economic downturns better than most, and ties to COSCO reach back for decades, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. COSCO and OOCL are also members of the same global carrier alliance, the Ocean Alliance.
OOCL is controlled by the Tung family of Hong Kong, which is known for close ties to Beijing. Industry analysts speculated that an announcement would come around July 1, when Hong Kong and China celebrate the 20th anniversary of the former British colony's return to China. The Journal of Commerce reports that the OOCL brand is expected to survive the purchase, along with its employees, headquarters in Hong Kong and independent stock exchange listing.