Cainiao goods in COSCO container

Cosco Shipping Holdings officially launched its supply chain logistics division yesterday, joining peers like MSC, Maersk and CMA CGM in entering the 3PL arena.

The state-controlled group said, in a Shanghai Stock Exchange filing, it wanted to optimise warehousing, trucking, container distribution, sea and rail freight, customs clearance, air freight and LCL transportation.

The windfall reaped by liner operators in the last two years, the result of logistical bottlenecks, has encouraged  ocean carriers to invest in the logistics field.

There had been signs that Cosco wanted to enlarge its logistics capabilities. On 1 October, it was announced that Cosco Shipping Lines would take a 7% stake in affiliate Cosco Shipping Logistics Supply Chain, describing the move as “a strategic investment”.

On 10 October, Parent Cosco Shipping Group gave away 805m “A” shares in Cosco Shipping Holdings to compatriot state-owned carmaker SAIC Motor Corp, a 5% stake, in a move it said was aimed at stabilising SAIC’s position in automobile logistics, while helping the shipping group to expand its end-to-end transport services.

And today, Hua Chuang Securities said: “Cosco Shipping Holdings is positioning itself as a digitalised supply chain operation with container shipping as the core. Gaining an interest in its 3PL affiliate will improve its end-to-end service network.”

It added that, as container freight rates continued their downward trajectory, getting into logistics could boost Cosco Shipping’s earnings once US and European retailers started to restock goods from China.

In Q3, Cosco Shipping Holdings’ net profit was down 12% from Q3 21, to $4.47bn, as freight rates declined.

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