Monday, December 03, 2007

CMA-CGM To Purchase U.S.Lines

U.S. Lines is set to become the latest small-scale carrier to join France's CMA CGM Group after the Marseilles company announced today that a takeover agreement has been reached. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

U.S. Lines was established in November 2003 after Ed Aldridge, a former APL and Sea-Land executive, and other managers bought the famous brand. The original U.S. Lines run by Malcolm McLean ceased trading in 1986.

The company has an estimated annual turnover of $145 million, employs 113 staff and moves about 100,000 TEUs each year on a U.S. West Coast/Australasia/Hong Kong triangular service in partnership with CMA CGM subsidiary ANL.

U.S. Lines also has seven chartered vessels, mostly in the 1,100-TEU range and one of 1,350 TEUs, a leased container fleet of 23,600 TEUs and offices in Los Angeles, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

CMA CGM said U.S. Lines would continue to operate under the same name and be managed by its existing global management team.

Earlier this year, CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container line, acquired Taiwanese Intra-Asia carrier Cheng Lie Navigation Co. Ltd. (CNC) and Moroccan state-owned Compagnie Maroccaine de Navigation (Comanav) to continue its strategy of buying strong regional players such as Delmas and ANL.

"The acquisition of U.S. Lines is in line with the aim of reinforcing the position of the ANL offer. The complementarity of U.S. Lines with ANL allows a more global solution on the triangular trade connecting the U.S. West Coast, Australia, New Zealand and Southern China," CMA CGM said in a statement.

Hmmmm...I knew Ed Aldridge liked French food...but not the management style. This is kind of shocking news. I thought it was really cool that Ed resurrected the brand made famous by Mr. McLean...and he and his crew did a great job of building the brand and operation. I'm kind of bummed that it will go to one of the big carriers as a "small-carrier" acquisition. Old school thinking I guess...which I still share, homage to the dwindling cast of characters from the ocean carrier days of yore.