Taiwan's Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp plans to order five "mega" containerships despite being hit by the global slowdown as it looks to keep up with rivals, media and an official said Monday.
The new ships, which are likely to be built by the island's biggest shipbuilder, CSBC Corporation Taiwan, could cost a total of more than $700 million and be among the largest vessels at sea, the Commercial Times said.
Yang Ming reported a deficit of Tw$5.3 billion ($176.02 million) in the nine months to September due to sluggish demand and soaring fuel prices, but that has not deterred the firm from ordering more ships, the Taipei-based paper reported.
"Shipping companies are building ever larger containerships, and this is a global trend that Yang Ming is unlikely to ignore," the firm's chairman, Lu Feng-hai, was quoted as saying.
Despite dismal industry outlook, shipping companies are building bigger containerships in a race for a larger market share, analysts say, adding that the bigger vessels are cheaper than the smaller ones in terms of operation cost.
Yang Ming's project, which will be submitted to the board for approval this week, calls for the construction of five containerships with each capable of carrying 16,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent), it said.
The largest container ship currently has the capacity for 18,000 TEUs.
If finalised, the project would cost an estimated Tw$22.5 billion ($747.26 million), and the first ships scheduled to be delivered in 2015, the Times said.
An official reached by AFP confirmed that Yang Ming, which operates a fleet of more than 80 containerships, confirmed it is considering an order for five "mega vessels" but added that details have yet to be finalised.