Fri, Mar 17, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Evergreen to order 20 container ships

By Yu-huay Sun  /  BLOOMBERG

Evergreen Marine Corp (長榮海運), which operates Asia's largest container shipping line, plans to order at least 20 container ships in the next 10 years to replace existing vessels.

Purchases of the ships, each able to carry 7,000 20-foot (6m) containers, will be open to bids, Daphne Tsai, Taipei-based Evergreen's public relations manager, said in an interview in Taipei on Wednesday.

Prices for ships of this size have risen to US$100 million apiece from US$70 million three years ago, according to Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維), executive vice president of the Evergreen Group (長榮集團), which owns the shipper. China's export boom and demand for raw materials has fueled demand for new ships.

"We're waiting for prices to fall before placing new orders," Nieh said.

Evergreen Marine will receive a total eight vessels of the same size this year and next, he said.

Evergreen and its affiliates have a total of 150 vessels in their fleet, with the combined capacity to carry 450,000 20-foot containers.

Evergreen said sales last year rose almost 1 percent to NT$42 billion (US$1.3 billion), according to its filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Nine-month net income climbed 8 percent to NT$9.67 billion, the company said on Oct. 31.

Shares of the company have declined 29 percent in the past 12 months.

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