P3 to announce network details soon
Maersk Line Chief Commercial Officer Steven Schueler said this week the members of the pending P3 Network will submit regulatory filings in Europe, North America and Asia within a week or two, with details of the alliance’s planned schedule to be made public soon as well.
Schueler made the pronouncement at the TPM Asia conference in Shenzhen Wednesday, with the industry waiting eagerly for details about how Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and Maersk Line will integrate their networks on the Asia-Europe, transpacific, and transatlantic trades.
The alliance, if approved by regulators, is scheduled to come into effect in the second quarter of 2014, with an operations center in London.
Schueler was asked a number of times at the conference about how the carriers would keep operations separate from commercial (re: pricing) activities. He responded by saying that the P3 moniker — which he was tasked with improving upon after being named the line’s top commercial executive in June — was perfect, because it meant nothing. The inference was that the important names are those of the individual lines, with their commercial activities to be left intact.
Schueler added that the activities of P3‘s leadership would be firewalled from the commercial activities at the lines.
He also deferred comment on whether the lines were actively looking to add other carriers to the alliance.
“We need to see the reaction from the governments before we can talk about a P4 or P5,” he said. “Right now, it’s about getting the first phase completed.”
One shipper at the conference, Erik Fransson, logistics manager of Swedish materials trading house Ekman, said he appreciated Schueler’s clarity, but had to remain skeptical until the alliance had been operating for six months. Ekman uses all three carriers, Fransson said.
But Alan Murphy, chief operating officer for the liner shipping analyst SeaIntel, said he couldn’t fathom how the three lines would risk violating Europe’s antitrust rules.
“This will be the most scrutinized alliance in this industry,” he said. “There’s always the possibility that a sales guy meets with another sales guy, but from an organizational standpoint, no way. Carriers are often accused of not being the smartest guy in the world, but they’re not this stupid. The risk is far too great for that. I don’t expect to see conversations in darkened rooms with whiskey and cigars.”
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