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Maersk Shipping: Deep Dive into the World's Largest Shipping Company

If you have ever visited any shipping port you must have seen, the Maersk shipping container. They are the world's largest shipping company with annual revenue of $82 Billion.

Maersk Shipping: Deep Dive into the World's Largest Shipping Company

Maersk Shipping, also known as A.P. Moller-Maersk, is a Danish container logistics company that operates in over 130 countries worldwide. The company has been in operation for over 100 years and is recognized as the world's largest container shipping company. In this article, we will explore the history, operations, and global impact of Maersk Shipping.


In this article:

History of Maersk

Maersk Shipping was founded in 1904 by Arnold Peter Moller and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. The company started out as a small shipping company that operated in the Baltic Sea, but over the years, it has grown to become a giant.

The Møller family in the drawing room of Villa Anna, 1890s
The Møller family in the drawing room of Villa Anna, 1890s

In the 1960s, Maersk Shipping entered the container shipping industry, which was still in its infancy at the time. The company was one of the first to invest in container ships, which allowed for more efficient transportation of goods. Maersk Shipping continued to expand its fleet and operations throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and by the 1990s, it had become the largest container shipping company in the world.

Operations of Maersk

Maersk Shipping operates a fleet of over 708 vessels and has a total capacity of about 4.1 million TEU, this includes container ships, tankers, and supply vessels. This makes Maersk Shipping the second-largest container shipping company in the world by TEU, The biggest is Cosco Shipping, a Chinese-state-owned shipping line that beats Maersk by 4.3 million TEU.

Maersk Shipping: How big it is?

The company's operations are divided into four main segments: Ocean, Logistics & Services, Terminals & Towage, and Manufacturing & Others. The Ocean segment is the largest and includes Maersk's container shipping operations. The Logistics & Services segment provides freight forwarding, supply chain management, and warehousing services.

Maersk Shipping's global reach is extensive, with operations in over 130 countries worldwide. Its biggest clients include Amazon, Disney, Microsoft, etc.

Editor Note:

The company doesn't disclose its client list, the above few names have been quoted on the basis of Bloomberg, not the company's site.

Impact of Maersk Shipping

Maersk Shipping's global impact is significant, as the company plays a crucial role in global trade and has a global market share of more than 16%. The company's container ships transport goods from all over the world, including consumer goods, raw materials, and industrial products.

Global Container Shipping Market Share Chart
Global Container Shipping Market Share Chart

Even though Maersk is a global company, the majority of its revenue comes from the US ($13.6 Billion), then China ($3.3 Billion). In total, the company generated $81 billion in revenue in 2022. With a $15 Billion debt and $12 Billion of cash in the bank.

Competition Analysis

Maersk's biggest competition is with China's COSCO Shipping Line and MSC. If you don't know about MSC Shipping, they are a privately held company owned by the Aponte family.

The domination of Maersk Line in terms of TEU capacity has been broken first time in 25 years by the MSC.

Comparison between China's Cosco and Maersk Shipping

1. Cosco has a larger fleet size than Maersk, with 1310 vessels and a capacity of 105.92 million DWT as of March 2020, while Maersk has 718 vessels and a capacity of 4.3 million TEU as of January 2022. 2. Maersk has a higher revenue than COSCO SHIPPING, with $51.6 billion in 2020, while COSCO SHIPPING had $44.7 billion in the same year. However, COSCO SHIPPING’s revenue grew by 14% from 2019 to 2020, while Maersk’s revenue declined by 5% in the same period. 3. Cosco and Maersk have different environmental and social impacts and initiatives. Cosco is China’s state-owned shipping company and has faced concerns from American officials about its expanding global influence and ownership stakes in terminals at five U.S. ports. Maersk is Denmark’s third-largest company by market capitalization and has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

  1. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) with 4,832,709 TEU and 740 ships

  2. Maersk with 4,185,693 TEU and 696 ships

  3. CMA CGM with 3,409,776 TEU and 604 ships

  4. COSCO Shipping Lines (COSCO) with 2,886,908 TEU and 464 ships

  5. Hapag-Lloyd with 1,798,866 TEU and 246 ships

Although by Revenue, Maersk's is the most profitable with an $82 Billion revenue which is 3 times higher than MSC ($28 Billion), it should be noted that MSC is solely owned by a family and Maersk is a publicly listed company with institutional investors.

comparison between the top 5 shipping companies by revenue

Here is a quick comparison between the top 5 shipping companies by revenue:

​S. No.


​Revenue (TTM)

Net Income

Market Cap



​$82.22 billion

$30.34 billion

$30.09 billion


Cosco (China)

$63.94 billion

$18.09 billion

$16.9 billion



​$30.09 billion

​$18.63 billion

$34.85 billion


NPNYY (Japan)

​$20.91 billion

$10.47 billion

​$12.06 billion


​Orient (China)

​ $16.83 billion

$7.13 billion

​$12.75 billion

Recent Acquisitions

Maersk has focused on acquiring logistics and e-commerce companies to expand its end-to-end solutions portfolio. Some of the recent acquisitions by Maersk in this sector are:

  • Pilot Freight Services, a U.S.-based provider of bulky delivery services for B2C and B2B customers, for $1.7bn in February 20221

  • LF Logistics, a Hong Kong-based contract logistics company with premium capabilities in omnichannel fulfillment and e-commerce, for $3.6bn in August 20222

  • Visible Supply Chain Management, a U.S.-based e-commerce logistics company focused on B2C parcel delivery and fulfillment services, for $838m in August 2021

At the time of writing, Maersk currently has over $11 Billion sitting in its bank and can easily acquire or pay off its $15 Billion of debt.

In conclusion, Maersk Shipping is the largest and most dominant player in the container shipping industry, with a fleet of over 700 vessels and a global network of ports and terminals. The company's size and scale give it a significant competitive advantage, and it is constantly evolving and investing in new technologies and sustainable practices in order to maintain its position as a leader in the industry. While there are other shipping companies that are also significant players in the industry, Maersk remains the clear leader in terms of market share and revenue, and it is likely to remain a dominant force in the global logistics industry for many years to come.


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