Watch Now

Container shipping shake-up: Maersk, MSC terminating 2M in 2025

World’s two largest container shipping lines call it quits on 2M alliance

The global container shipping network is poised for a major shake-up. The 2M vessel-sharing alliance between MSC and Maersk — the world’s two largest ocean carriers — is being dissolved.

The two carriers said Wednesday that they had mutually agreed to terminate the alliance effective January 2025. Under the agreement signed in 2015, the alliance on east-west services was for a minimum of 10 years with a two-year notice period for termination. (For in-depth analyst perspectives on the repercussions, see story here.)

“Discontinuing the 2M alliance paves the way for both companies to continue to pursue their individual strategies,” said MSC CEO Soren Toft and newly appointed A.P. Moller-Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc in a joint statement.

The decision to terminate the 2M alliance has no effect on immediate alliance services, they emphasized. “We look forward to a continued strong collaboration throughout the remainder of the agreement period,” said Toft and Clerc.

Maersk said in a customer advisory, “We will seek to minimize any disruptions to the 2M network leading up to termination in 2025.”

During the pandemic period, the strategies of the two 2M partners diverged. MSC grew its capacity faster than any other shipping line, expanding primarily through secondhand ship acquisitions, while Maersk kept its capacity steady and focused instead on being an end-to-end logistics provider.

Maersk told customers: “Since 2M was formed in 2015, Maersk’s strategy has changed, as have the needs of our customers. Maersk wants to accelerate becoming an integrated provider of logistics, connecting and simplifying our customers’ supply chains.

“Discontinuing the 2M alliance paves the way for Maersk to efficiently focus on our integrator strategy to meet the evolving needs of our customers, including reliability, flexibility and sustainability.”

As for MSC, Toft said, “We continue to strengthen and modernize our fleet, providing us with the scale we need for the most comprehensive ocean and short-sea shipping network in the market.”

Click for more articles by Greg Miller 

Greg Miller

Greg Miller covers maritime for FreightWaves and American Shipper. After graduating Cornell University, he fled upstate New York's harsh winters for the island of St. Thomas, where he rose to editor-in-chief of the Virgin Islands Business Journal. In the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn, he moved to New York City, where he served as senior editor of Cruise Industry News. He then spent 15 years at the shipping magazine Fairplay in various senior roles, including managing editor. He currently resides in Manhattan with his wife and two Shih Tzus.