* Company says freight rates remain under pressure
* Blames tough competition, weak U.S. dollar
* Pins hopes on G6 alliance, container merger with CSAV
(Adds comments, forecast)
FRANKFURT, May 13 German shipping company
Hapag-Lloyd's first-quarter loss widened as its
revenue declined, hit by tough competition which depressed
freight rates and a weak dollar.
Shipping groups have been struggling through the worst slump
on record, as they grapple with low freight rates caused by
overcapacity and a weak global economy.
Hapag-Lloyd's first-quarter operating loss increased to 63.2
million euros ($86.9 million) from 53.2 million euros in the
same period a year ago, even though transport volumes rose 5.5
percent to 1.4 million twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEU).
Its net loss widened from 93.6 million to 119.1 million
euros, which included one-off costs from the takeover of Chilean
shipping Compania SudAmericana de Vapores's (CSAV)
Earnings were hit by "persistently aggressive competition"
and freight rates remained under pressure, the company said on
Chief Executive Michael Behrendt said the expansion of the
G6 shipping alliance so that it would cover all east-west
trades, as well as the integration of CSAV's container segment
would "significantly improve" the company's ability to compete.
The G6 alliance - comprising Hapag-Lloyd, APL, Hyundai
Merchant Marine, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Nippon Yusen Kaisha and
Orient Overseas Container Line - was formed in late 2011 and
began operation in March 2012 on Asia-Europe and Mediterranean
Hapag-Lloyd also separately signed a binding deal with
Chile's CSAV last month to create the world's fourth-largest
First-quarter revenue fell 6 percent to 1.55 billion euros.
When adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations as a result of the
weaker dollar, the revenue decline was 2.3 percent.
Hapag-Lloyd did not make any specific financial forecast for
2014 but said the goal for this year continued to be improving
the overall freight rate, which stood at $1,482/TEU last year.
In the first quarter, the firm said the average freight rate
was $1,422/TEU, down by $124/TEU on a year ago.
($1 = 0.7270 Euros)
(Reporting by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Pravin Char)