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HAMBURG: As expected, Chile-based CSAV has agreed to merge its container business with Hapag-Lloyd to enable the German company to become the fourth largest container operator in the world.

A joint statement said the new combination "will result in annual synergies of at least USD 300 million."

Behrendt-HasbunFollowing regulatory approvals and the resolution of minority shareholders, the expanded Hapag Lloyd will operate 200 vessels with a total capacity of one million TEUs, an annual volume of 7.5 million units and a combined turnover of €9 billion.

CSAV is to become a 30 percent shareholder in Hapag-Lloyd, together with the City of Hamburg (HGV) and Kühne Maritime, and contribute €259 million to a new €370 million capital injection. Once complete the CSAV holding will increase to 34 percent. Hapag Lloyd says a second capital increase of €370 million will be linked to the company's planned stock exchange listing.

Speaking beneath the Hapag Lloyd motto at its head office in Hamburg: "my field is the world", Michael Behrendt (left in picture), chairman of the company's executive board, said he was delighted the two companies are playing an active part in consolidating the liner shipping industry. Oscar Hasbún, CEO of CSAV added: "By joining forces, we are creating a stronger, larger and more global company with significant economies of scale and a considerably improved competitive position."

The last of ten 13,200 TEU-capacity vessels for its Far East trades will enter Hapag Lloyd service at the end of April while CSAV has seven 9,300 TEU-capacity ships scheduled for delivery in 2014 and 2015. "This means that we will have a young and cost-efficient fleet. The use of optimum tonnage in the trades is one of the key prerequisites for successful operations in the face of international competition," said Hasbún.

Hapag-Lloyd was founded in 1847 and CSAV 25 years later. The head office of the combined operation will remain in Hamburg.

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