France's CMA CGM and China's COSCO Container Lines are to form a four-way vessel-sharing alliance with Evergreen Line and Orient Overseas Container Line focused on Asia routes, CMA CGM said on Wednesday.
Container shipping has seen route-sharing develop in response to a severe downturn in the market, and a rejigging of alliances had been expected in recent months after COSCO merged with China Shipping Group
and CMA CGM agreed to acquire Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines (NOL).
The new tie-up, called "Ocean Alliance", would begin operations in April 2017, subject to regulatory approval, for an initial period of five years, CMA CGM said in a statement.
The partnership would involve a fleet of 350 container ships covering Asia-Europe, Asia-Mediterranean, Asia-Red Sea, Asia-Middle East, Trans-Pacific, Asia-North America East Coast, and transatlantic routes, CMA CGM said.
In a first stage, the operations would offer more than 40 services, mostly connected with Asia, it said.
CMA CGM is currently part of the "Ocean Three" alliance with China Shipping Group and United Arab Shipping Co
, a deal that expires at the end of this year.
In order to win approval from European Union regulators for its $2.4 billion takeover of NOL, CMA CGM had offered to withdraw NOL from competing alliances, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. CMA CGM declined
China Cosco Shipping (COSCOCS), the new entity created from Cosco's merger with China Shipping Group, had said in February it would carefully select future vessel-sharing partners, while maintaining its two current alliances for the moment.
COSCO is currently part of the CKYHE alliance that also includes Evergreen.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz; editing by Michel Rose, Greg Mahlich)