News Roundup – Shipping

Services Shipping Image 1Three of the world’s largest shipping competitors have joined forces in a bid to minimise losses due to overcapacity and falling freight rates. Maersk Line, Switzerland-based MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. and France’s CMA CGM announced their intentions this week, although the alliance will need approval from regulators across the world and EU competition authorities. Together, the three groups account for just under 40% of global container capacity, which may prove problematic getting approval. The alliance will consist of 255 ships, serving the Asia-Europe, Transpacific and Transatlantic routes, and will be called the P3. “Declining volume growth and over-capacity in recent years have underlined the need to improve operations and efficiency in the industry,” Maersk Line said. P3 is due to be launched in the second quarter of 2014 once approval has been given.

A drug smuggling operation, using hackers to manipulate systems at Antwerp port, has been brought down after a police seizure of a tonne of cocaine, a tonne of heroin and a suitcase stuffed with €1.3m. More like something out of The Wire than real life, the gang used hackers to change the location and delivery times of containers carrying illegal goods, allowing the gang to collect before the legitimate haulier could arrive. In addition to the drugs, police recovered firearms, bulletproof vests and large sums of money, resulting in nine people being arrested: seven in the Netherlands and two in Belgium. The plot was uncovered after shipping firms realised something was wrong, although the drug-smuggling operation extended to other ports in the region, including Rotterdam: “At the end of May, police seized 250kg of cocaine in a container of bananas leaving Antwerp for Holland [the Netherlands], after discovering 114kg of the same drug in April, concealed in a cargo of wood from Chile which was landed in the Dutch port of Rotterdam,” reports.

Shipping magnate, Paul Soros, died in New York on June 15th, aged 87.  Soros’ career in the shipping industry revolutionised the way bulk raw materials, such as coal and iron ore, could be brought in to ports. His company, Soros Associates, is estimated to have designed and engineered such ports and offshore terminals in more than 90 countries, building the means to allow for loading in open seas and in shallow waters, something of particularly help for developing countries without the means to pay for an offloading facility.

Born June 5, 1926, to a well-to-do Jewish family in Budapest, Soros was no stranger to adversity. Escaping Nazi occupied Europe to the US in 1948, he arrived with just $17 in his pocket. He went from there to establishing a multi-million pound business before selling it off in 1989. He turned towards philanthropy in 1997, setting up the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships to help provide grants for graduate study for struggling new immigrants or their children. To date, the foundation has helped over 400 students.

Soros is survived by his wife, Daisy, and two sons; a son and a daughter died in accidents.

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