Maersk terminates agreement with DB Schenker after attempt at hijacking customers

Maersk has terminated its agreement with DB Schenker after the German company attempted to hijack customers from Damco. DB Schenker confirms the break up to ShippingWatch but does not link it to the offer sent to Damco’s customers.

Maersk is so angry with DB Schenker’s attempt to hijack customers that the container line has terminated its agreement with the German logistics company, report several media.

DB Schenker confirms to ShippingWatch that the company’s agreement as a major customer with Maersk has ended.

The reason behind Maersk’s drastic step, which has allegedly triggered conflict at the highest level at the two companies, is DB Schenker’s public attempt to hijack customers from Maersk subsidiary Damco.

When Maersk announced in September that Damco would be shut down by the end of 2020, DB Schenker shortly thereafter sent an offer to Damco’s customers to take over short-term contracts of up to two months on the same conditions as offered by Damco.

This created so much anger at Maersk’s headquarters in Copenhagen that the company has now severed its ties with the German freight forwarder, which is a major customer of the container lines with more than 2.3 million tons seaborne cargo annually.

The order came from Maersk CEO Søren Skou, reports German media Hansa International citing anonymous sources.

According to the media, Skou became furious when he heard about the offer sent to Damco’s customers. He personally contacted DB Schenker CEO Jochen Thewes, who both declined to withdraw the offer and to apologize, writes Hansa International.

Maersk declines to comment on the story when contacted by ShippingWatch, as it, on principle, does not comment on customer relations in the media.

DB Schenker offers different version.

DB Schenker confirms the termination of the arrangement with Maersk. But the German logistics major, owned by state-owned Deutsche Bahn, offers a different version of the events than the one reported in German media.

According to DB Schenker, the company decided already in the spring to move most of its container freight from Maersk to rival shipping lines.

“DB Schenker adjusted its shipping company portfolio in the spring and shifted around 90 percent of the freight volume previously loaded at Maersk to other shipping companies,” writes the company to ShippingWatch.


Still, DB Schenker decided, months later, to try to hijack Damco’s customers.
“Irrespective of this, customers of the freight forwarder Damco were offered a stability package for the NVOCC FCL in September, as this business had been discontinued by Damco,” writes DB Schenker.
The break between the parties means that DB Schenker from Oct. 1 now longer holds the status of “key account” at Maersk.
The consequence of this is that DB Schenker can no longer book freight on credit with Maersk. Instead, the German freight forwarder must pay for each individual booking.
Break happens in the midst of historical Maersk transformation.
The tensions between Maersk and DB Schenker comes at a time when Maersk is working full-speed on its historical transformation to turn the conglomerate into an integrated transport and logistics company.
The strategy has already resulted in an integration of Maersk Line and Damco. The ambition is for the land-based business to become a bigger counterweight to the core business in Ocean ahead of 2023.
Maersk is not alone in pursuing this ambition. Rival CMA CGM harbors similar ambitions with its billion-dollar acquisition of Ceva Logistics.
This development means that the container lines will play a new role for major freight forwarders such as DB Schenker and DSV, which are also customers at the shipping lines.
Last year this made DSV Chief Executive Jens Bjørn Andersen describe the development as a “paradigm shift.”

From ShippingWatch

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