“If something like this pops up, you really should look at it,” said Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen (above) yesterday, when asked about his firm’s failed bid for South Korean carrier HMM.

The removal of the German carrier from the list of preferred bidders was confirmed by Hapag yesterday.

The Loadstar reported last week that the list had subsequently been whittled down to three potential buyers, all domestic South Korean firms.

“If you look at the market and what options are out there to create synergies with other partners, there isn’t a great deal of opportunity,” he said.

“We believed we could be a good partner, but they have chosen to go in another direction – in fact, we always felt [winning the bid] would be an unlikely outcome – but also felt it was good to raise our hand.”

Mr Habben Jansen said the company was putting the finishing touches to its new long-term strategic vision, with the current Strategy 2023 plan shortly due to conclude. He added that the new plan, to run until 2030, would centre on four “pillars”, one of which is Hapag’s desire to cement itself as a truly “global player”.

One of the more mouth-watering potential M&A prospects often speculated in the liner industry would be a merger between Hapag-Lloyd and Japanese line ONE – shipping analyst Lars Jensen argued at the TPM conference in Long Beach earlier this year that combining the two carriers would produce a company with around the same size fleet as CMA CGM, and he described the tie-up as “inevitable”.

However, Mr Habben Jansen yesterday remained sceptical: “I simply don’t think a merger between us and ONE is on the cards,” he said. “We are going to set ourselves a growth target with Strategy 2030, but we have no urgency to do something on the acquisition side.

“I do think that when you look at our business in a few years’ time, it will be bigger, but that might not be through M&A,” he added.

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