By Costas Paris
China Shipping Container Lines (>> China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd) plans to order five triple-E container ships, becoming the second operator after market leader A.P. Moller-Maesk A/S (MAERSK-A.KO) to add the huge new fuel-efficient vessels to its fleet.
In a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange Saturday, CSCL said it needs the new ships to "raise its core competitiveness." The ships, the biggest of their kind, can carry up to 18,000 containers. The company said it will give further details after it has finalized the order.
Each triple-E ship is expected to cost around $140 million for a combined sum of $700 million, with the final order likely to be announced next month and expected to go to shipyards in South Korea, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
Hyundai Heavy Industries (>> Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.), Samsung Heavy Industries (>> Samsung Heavy Industries Co.,Ltd) and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (>> Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering) have submitted bids for the order, the person said.
Daewoo Shipbuilding built the triple-E class vessels for Maesk Line, the wholly-owned container-shipping unit of the Danish conglomerate. Maersk Line has ordered 20 triple-E ships, with the first due for delivery in the middle of this year.
CSCL, China's biggest contained shipper by capacity, is a unit of China's state-run China Shipping (Group) Co. CSCL reported a net loss of 688.9 million yuan ($111.7 million) in the three months to March 31, down from CNY1.45 billion in the same period last year.
(Jeffrey Ng in Hong Kong contributed to this article.)
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