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HAMBURG: Hapag-Lloyd has reported a turnover of 6.56 billion in 2013 – a drop of 241 million year-on-year. Despite an EBITA increase of €54 million to €389 million during 2013, the group produced a net loss of 97 million, down from a 128 million loss in 2012.

The company says the results reflect the combination of market over-capacity and rates that averaged US$99 per TEU below the 2012 level of US$1482. Nevertheless transport volumes rose 4.6 percent to 5.5 million TEUs across all trades last year.

Hapag-Lloyd Kiel ExpressMichael Behrendt, chairman of the Executive Board commented: "Although Hapag-Lloyd continued to perform well compared to other industry players thanks to the positive operating result, this result nevertheless falls well short of our expectations for 2013 and is ultimately disappointing."

Echoing the experience by many of his counterparts in the air cargo industry, he added: "However, as one of many market players, we are unable to avoid the general trend in rates, which was again characterized by irrationality in the previous year."

Citing IMF and World Bank forecasts for 2014, Behrendt thinks the outlook is much better for liner shipping, particularly with the introduction of newbuilds to replace a growing number of older ships that will be scrapped. The last three of 10 13,200 TEU-capacity newbuilds ordered by the company are due to enter service in the Europe–Asia trade in April. In 2013 the company invested 743 million in ships and containers, down from 791 million in 2012.

Commenting on the ongoing merger discussions with Chilean carrier CSAV, Behrendt said: "In addition to a balanced supply and demand situation, industry consolidation is both desirable and necessary in order to restore the margins that a capital-intensive industry such as liner shipping needs. I have always emphasised that Hapag-Lloyd would like to play an active role in this process of consolidation.

"Since the end of 2013, we have been holding promising talks with the Chilean liner shipping company CSAV with regard to an acquisition of their container business in return for a stake in Hapag-Lloyd...A takeover of CSAV's container business would lift Hapag-Lloyd from being the sixth to the fourth- largest liner shipping company in the world, bringing us within striking distance of the three largest shipping companies. The takeover would also make Hapag-Lloyd a market leader in South America, in addition to our existing strength in the high-volume East–West trades thanks to our membership of the G6 Alliance," he added.

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