Sinotrans containers

The Chinese state-owned Antong Holdings, parent of Quanzhou Ansheng Shipping, is to expand its container shipping operations and enter the car-carrier business by acquiring Sinotrans Container Lines (Sinolines) and China Merchants RoRo Transportation (Guangzhou) from China Merchants Energy Shipping Company (CMES).

 The transaction could see Antong overtake DP World’s Unifeeder as the world’s 16th largest liner operator and will enable CMES to focus on its core businesses of dry bulk and tanker shipping.

Sinolines and Guangzhou RoRo contributed 23% of CMES’s $683.2m net profit in 2023.

 CMES acquired Sinolines from the Sinotrans group in 2021 and owns 70% of Guangzhou RoRo, with Chinese carmaker Guangzhou Automobile holding the remaining 30%. It was not disclosed how much Antong will pay for the acquisitions or how they will be funded.

Sinolines owns 29 containerships, 34,976 teu, and has 14 chartered ships, 18,505 teu. This capacity of 53,481 teu makes it the 33rd-largest operator, while Antong, ranked 22nd, owns 38 vessels, 61,578 teu, and has chartered 27,196 teu of ships. Combined they would surpass Unifeeder’s 141,892 teu.

Last year, Sinolines carried 967,300 teu, an increase of 12% year on year, and expanded its portfolio, adding capacity to the East China Haiphong route and opened a South China-Haiphong route, a Ningbo-Thailand-Vietnam route and routes to India. Its forwarding business fulfilled FCL volumes of 145,100 teu and 40,000 cu metres of LCL volumes.

Last year, Guangzhou RoRo completed 876,100 seaborne car shipments, carried 1.5m cu metres of breakbulk cargo and launched routes to move Chinese car exports to the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and Thailand.

Antong went into administration in late 2019 after it was discovered that between February 2017 and March 2019, Guo Dongze, one of two major shareholder brothers, provided unauthorised guarantees for over $90m for transactions involving the company. These caused 30 lawsuits seeking around $87m to be filed against Antong in late 2019.

In October 2020, a joint-venture, comprising state-owned entities including AVIC and China Merchants, signed a restructuring agreement with Antong’s administrators, resulting in the company also becoming state-owned.

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