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The container ship Maersk Jefferson arrives in Halifax on Saturday, August 18, 2012.
The container ship Maersk Jefferson arrives in Halifax on Saturday, August 18, 2012.
(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

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Maersk signals a wide turn away from shipping

If you were looking for a bearish signal about the global economy, you don’t have to go further than Maersk. The Danish conglomerate has signalled a long-term shift in its investment strategy. It’s moving away from its historic shipping business and towards the energy sector, where it produces oil and gas, and leases drilling rigs. It’s a sad admission for a company that is more than a century old and which not only boasts both the world’s largest container fleet, with capacity for 2.2 million TEUs (twenty foot eqivalent units), but which has also ordered some of the biggest container vessels ever built. Maersk has decided that the tide is definitely turning for shipping but at least the Danish giant has other strings to its bow – notably, oil production. The same cannot be said of the world’s flag-carrying airlines, which are suffering from the same glut of overcapacity, weak markets and high costs but, unlike Maersk, have no oily tank from which to draw sustenance.