Maersk is spending more than $1 billion to delve deeper into air freight, as the world’s largest container shipping group and one of the biggest winners in the global supply chain crisis looks to bolster its logistics offering.
The Danish group has bought Senator International, a powerful German air freight carrier, in a deal worth $644 million. It is also leasing three new planes starting next year and buying two more planes in 2024.
The acquisition came as Maersk on Tuesday released third-quarter results that confirmed how the group has benefited from extremely high freight rates unleashed by the supply chain crisis.
Revenue rose by two-thirds from the same period a year earlier to $16.6 billion while operating profit nearly doubled to $5.9 billion. Maersk already boosted its earnings guidance for the year for the third time in September.
Maersk had forecast EBITDA of about $6-7 billion in the fourth quarter, and said it expected to achieve the same in the first quarter of next year, although it cautioned that uncertainty was higher than usual.
Explaining the acquisition of Senator, Vincent Clerk, CEO of Ocean and Logistics at Maersk, said: “We’ve strengthened our integrated logistics offering through acquisitions of e-commerce logistics, technology investments, and expanding our warehouse scale, and as a natural next step, we are now increasing freight capacity our airspace significantly and creating a wider network to better meet customer needs.”
Maersk has operated its own air cargo operations since 1987 and its Star Air subsidiary operates 15 aircraft. The Danish group aims to transport about a third of its cargo of air freight using its own network, with the rest carried by commercial carriers.
About two-thirds of Senator’s business is air freight, and the German group has 19 weekly flights in its network.
“In light of the ongoing exceptional market situation with rising demand in the USA and global disruptions to supply chains, we have continued to increase capacity and expand our offerings to keep goods moving for our customers,” added Soren Skew, CEO of Maersk.
The group also announced that it will extend its $5 billion share buyback program for 2024 and 2025.