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HMM expects second half profits

HMM CEO, Bae Jae-hoon expects cargo volumes to pick up during the usual seasonal peak in the third quarter 2020, as retailers in the US and Europe stock up for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Speaking at a press conference today Bae said HMM’s target is a 25% increase in sales year-on-year, with operating profits in the last two quarters of 2020.

He added, "Since the beginning of this year, there is a growing sense of war between the US and Iran, while uncertainty in the global trade environment, intensifying with the US-China trade tension and Brexit are directly affecting trade volumes."

From 1 April, HMM will leave the 2M network, which comprises Maersk Line and MSC, to join THE Alliance, composed of ONE, Yang Ming and Hapag-Lloyd.

HMM narrowly escaped bankruptcy in 2016 when Hyundai Group sold off a number of assets and subsidiaries to raise funds and renegotiated rates for period-chartered ships in a monumental self-rescue effort.

However, since then, HMM has struggled to realise profits, in the face of stiff competition and economic weakness.

Explaining HMM's decision to depart from 2M in favour of THE Alliance, Bae said that all the member operators of the latter alliance will be equally involved in decision making and will be able to respond to market conditions.

"Basically, the conditions of THE Alliance were better than 2M," said Bae.

HMM will formally join THE Alliance with the delivery of a dozen 24,000 TEU container ships from Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. These vessels will be deployed on the Asia-North Europe route and, according to Bae, will improve cost competitiveness.

Bae added, "The key [for the large ships] is how to fill the slots with back-haul cargoes from Europe or the US. To this end, we have hired regional backhaul sales specialists who will be in full swing this year.

“The future is not easy, but if the freight, oil prices, and supply and demand are in line with the current forecasts, we will be able to return to the black."

Martina Li,
Asian correspondent

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