History

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Breakthrough of the container

1971

Hapag and NDL are of almost identical size at the time of their merger. With more than 10,000 staff, 112 ocean-going ships and a turnover of over one billion DM, internationally the new Hapag-Lloyd AG belongs to the top echelon of liner shipping companies. At Shed 73, covering 25,000 square metres, the company takes its first container handling facility into service in Hamburg’s Kaiser-Wilhelm-Hafen.

1972

The "Bremen" is sold and handed over to the new owners. In the previous year she had been the last survivor on the passenger liner service between Europe and the New World that Hapag and NDL had to thank for their birth and ascent. In December 1971, with her a "Bremen" on passenger liner service had sailed from New York for the last time, 113 years after the first Lloyd steamship with this name had sailed on this route for the first time.

1973

On 30 March an aircraft with Hapag-Lloyd AG’s double arrow as part of its livery takes off for Ibiza. This is Hapag-Lloyd Flug GmbH’s first plane. The new airline is designed to further boost Group involvement in tourism. The "Europa" as a cruise ship sports the Group colours blue and cognac. In new white painting but with the trusty service on board, she is the well-loved "Grand Old Lady" of tourism at sea.

1974

A long-term cooperation agreement with Rickmers Linie that is to resume services to China again trade jointly with Hapag-Lloyd. The Group initially owns 70 percent of the company, hitherto family-owned. The German port operations are restructured and Unikai Lagerei- and Speditionsgesellschaft is founded. Two multi-purpose supply ships are to pave the way for entry to the offshore business.

1975

The Port of Hamburg celebrates: The "Münsterland" returns home at last, after a record-breaking involuntary voyage lasting eight years, three months and five days. During the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt in 1967, the Hapag cargo ship became stranded between the fronts, being trapped for years with 13 other ships from eight countries in the Great Bitter Lake while the Suez Canal was impassable.

1976

The shipping business is internationalized, with several subsidiaries being set up abroad during this decade. Unterweser Frachtschiffahrt GmbH is now known as "Kosmos" Bulkschiffahrt GmbH, based in Bremen, after DDG "Kosmos", which had merged with Hapag in 1926. The new "Kosmos" manages the flagship of the German merchant fleet, Hapag-Lloyd’s 188,668-grt supertanker "Bonn".

1977

The full containership "Melbourne Express" opens the liner service Europe - Australia/New Zealand for the ANZECS pool of European shipping lines. Hapag-Lloyd manages the nuclear-powered bulk carrier "Otto Hahn" for Gesellschaft für Kernernergieverwertung in Schiffbau und Schiffahrt (GKSS), a research institution set up to assess the application of nuclear power in shipping and shipbuilding. This proved to be by no means commercially viable. Hapag-Lloyd Flug takes over Bavaria Germanair.

1978

Towards 03.00 on 12 December Hapag-Lloyd’s Lash ship "München", on passage from Bremerhaven to Savannah and caught in stormy weather near the Azores, transmits a brief distress call. This large, modern ship then disappears. The most extensive search-and-rescue action ever mounted in the history of shipping produces no more than a small quantity of wreckage and no trace of the 28 people on board. The cause of the tragedy is assumed to have been an extremely high sea surge.

1979

A second oil price shock, more serious than the one in 1973, and over-capacities in international shipping put Hapag-Lloyd equally under pressure at sea and in the air. For the first time since the merger, the Group pays no dividends. The Group acquires an initial majority stake in Haiger-based Pracht Spedition und Logistik GmbH, taking it over completely by 1986.

1980

Sharply higher fuel prices have an especially catastrophic effect on the airline, which with Bavaria Germanair had acquired many older aircraft with excessive fuel consumption. Hapag-Lloyd Flug plunges deeply into the red. Problems hit long-established DGG Hansa in Bremen and Hapag-Lloyd takes over its services to the Near and Middle East as well as Madagascar/Mauritius.

1981

One turbine is removed from each of the four containerships of the "Hamburg Express" class on the Far East run on account of rising fuel prices. They now operate as single-screw vessels. A legend has to go. Launched in 1952 as the Swedish "Kungsholm", the "Europa" was one of Lloyd’s last North Atlantic liners and then Hapag-Lloyd’s top-of-the-range cruise ship. She is now sold to Panama.

1982

The Group is reorganized and streamlined, once again concentrating on its core businesses of liner shipping and tourism. Conforming to this, a spectacular 33,819-grt newbuilding bearing the traditional name "Europa" flies the flag on cruise routes for the first time. She is a five-star 'dream ship' in the luxury bracket. Hapag-Lloyd also manages the German Polar research/supply vessel "Polarstern".

1983

Group involvement in tanker and bulk shipping is brought to an end. The multi-purpose ships are sold, tanker management discontinued, and the Group’s own supertanker "Bonn" laid up, lastly in Brunei. Major shareholders like Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank and the Veritas insurance company rescue Hapag-Lloyd from the deep crisis with 350 million DM. So rich in traditions, the head office building on Ballindamm is sold to the Iduna insurance company.

1984

After restructuring and the subsequent double capital reduction, the independent shareholders’ stake in Hapag-Lloyd Group amounts to no more than a good ten percent. The main shareholders, with 80 percent between them, are now Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank. Consisting of Allianz and Münchner Rückversicherung, the Veritas insurance group holds ten percent of the shares. The supertanker "Bonn", a loss-maker from the outset, is sold for a knockdown price.

1985

Recovery now proceeds fast. At Blohm & Voss in Hamburg the four containerships "Nürnberg Express", "Köln Express", "Düsseldorf Express" and "Stuttgart Express" are refitted and lengthened. By contrast, the end of the Group’s own shipbuilding activities is foreseeable: Hapag-Lloyd had transferred Lloydwerft to Bremer Vulkan AG in 1984 in exchange for 12 percent of Vulkan’s capital.

1986

Hapag-Lloyd again pays dividends and sells its stake in Bremer Vulkan. This marks the end of a chapter in Group history going back to NDL’s early days. The shipyard had been founded as the company’s technical arm, later gaining renown on the market for repairing and lengthening large ships. The last Hapag-Lloyd-owned shares go to Hibeg, the Bremen state holding company.

1987

In its own building again: Hapag-Lloyd re-acquires the head office block at Ballindamm 25. The sandstone facade of Fritz Höger’s building – completed in 1921 – is cleaned and restored. The cargo fleet also receives a new livery, having sailed under a combination of Hapag stacks in three colours and the blue-white NDL house flag with the key motif. From now on both flag and funnel markings are in the new Group colours.

1988

After Hapag-Lloyd AG’s acquisition of the remaining shares, Rickmers Linie, founded in 1866 and one of the pioneers in business with Asia, becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary. It complements Hapag-Lloyd container services with conventional multi-purpose cargo ships and specializes in transporting general cargoes and plant shipments. In addition, it runs regional feeder services between China and Hong Kong.

1989

Hapag-Lloyd sells its shares in Unikai to the public-sector Hamburger Hafen- und Lagerhaus-Aktiengesellschaft (HHLA). For the first time since the early days of Hapag, the company therefore no longer has any port facilities of its own in Hamburg. Contrans Logistik GmbH with 36,000 containers is acquired and integrated into the Group, boosting its total stock to over 80,000 containers.

1990

Hapag-Lloyd Flug embarks on long-haul tourism with nine long-range aircraft, the first destinations being Kenya and the Caribbean. The shipping line has ordered five new 4,400-TEU mega-containerships from a South Korean shipyard. As what are known as Panmax ships these can still transit the Panama Canal and can thus be flexibly deployed worldwide.

1991

The "Hannover Express" enters service on the "racetrack" route to East Asia as the first of a later total of eight gigantic containerships of the new generation. Nevertheless, the results from liner shipping in this Region fluctuate. The TRIO consortium, in which the shares of this trade had been apportioned, is not renewed. Only Hapag-Lloyd and three Japanese shipping lines remain in the East Asia Alliance for a limited period.

1992

Global partnership: Hapag-Lloyd, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) of Japan and Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) from Singapore agree to cooperation in the container business. From now onwards Hapag-Lloyd containers will be transported "piggyback" by NYK and NOL on their Transpacific service and as a counterweight the Asian partners receive container slots on Hapag-Lloyd vessels on the North Atlantic route.

1993

Hapag-Lloyd Group’s liner shipping activities are decentralized. These are now split between the Europe, America and Asia/Australia Regions that are responsible for their own results. Central freight departments are disbanded. Change of watch on Ballindamm: Hans Jakob Kruse, Executive Board Chairman for many years, moves to the supervisory board. As his successor, Bernd Wrede now bears the main responsibility.

1994

Hapag-Lloyd is the first transport company to receive the ISO 9002 certificate for outstanding quality management. After the demise of the ANZECS Consortium, the company participates in a new Australia/New Zealand joint service. Sale of the towage companies Lütgens & Reimers (Hamburg) and Hapag-Lloyd Transport & Service GmbH (Bremen), which has also managed the research vessel "Polarstern".

1995

Founding of Hapag-Lloyd China Ltd., with nine offices in Hong Kong and China. During the 1990s, around the world several own branches are set up and agencies taken over. Ahead of the date legally prescribed, the "Europa" receives a Certificate for Ship Safety and Environmental Protection under the ISM Code. Previously on charter to the company, the cruise ship "Bremen" is acquired. HL’s airline, HL Cruises and the HL travel agency also receive the coveted ISO 9002 certificate.

1996

The Grand Alliance, the world’s largest consortium of liner shipping companies, commences services. Already working in an alliance, the partners Hapag-Lloyd, NYK and NOL are joined by P&O Container Lines from Britain. With a fleet capacity of around 400,000 TEU, this year the alliance transports around 3.8 million TEU. Not just at sea, but also ashore, the alliance strives for close cooperation.

1997

150 years of Hapag-Lloyd. The head office building in Hamburg is given the name "Ballin House". Establishment of the Hapag-Lloyd Foundation, which supports art and culture, with priority for Hamburg, in long-term partnerships. Liner shipping activities become independent as Hapag-Lloyd Container Linie GmbH, Hapag-Lloyd acquires Hanseatic Tours and combines all cruise activities under Hapag-Lloyd Seetouristik.

1998

After assent from the Federal Cartel Office, Preussag AG acquires a majority stake in Hapag-Lloyd AG with retrospective effect from 1 October 1997. Touristik Union International (TUI) acquires a 50.1 percent majority stake in Preussag’s new subsidiary in two stages. The interim holding company Hapag Touristik Union (HTU) combines all tourism activities under the Hapag-Lloyd AG umbrella.

1999

The Hapag-Lloyd Group is restructured. HTU’s tourism business, including Hapag-Lloyd Flug, is allocated directly to Preussag and re-named TUI Group GmbH. Hapag-Lloyd Container Linie, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Spedition Pracht (acquired in 1979) continue to be run from Hamburg. In addition, TUI transfers the VTG-Lehnkering and Algeco logistics companies to Hapag-Lloyd.

2000

Hapag-Lloyd achieves its best result in 153 years of the company’s history. The Group’s seven percent return on turnover represents a peak figure for the transport and logistics industry. The last shares in Rickmers Linie are sold. That marks the end of a business partnership commenced over a century earlier.

2001

The "Hamburg Express", the first of four 7,500-TEU containerships, is put into service. VTG-Lehnkering’s maritime services are sold. Hapag-Lloyd acquires a 25.1 percent stake in Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) in Hamburg, one of the world’s most advanced facilities. Bernd Wrede, Executive Board Chairman, leaves the company at year-end and is succeeded by Michael Behrendt.

2002

The Hapag-Lloyd Annual General Meeting in June agrees to a squeeze out of minority shareholders. Immediately afterwards Preussag, now the sole shareholder in Hapag-Lloyd AG, changes its name to TUI. Hapag-Lloyd and VTG-Lehnkering acquire the European rail logistics activities of Australia-based Brambles Group. The Annual General Meeting of VTG-Lehnkering assents to acquisition of all its shares by Hapag-Lloyd.

2003

The "Berlin Express", the last newbuilding in the 7,500-TEU series, is named at CTA in Hamburg. Hapag-Lloyd now orders three larger ships, each with a capacity of 8,000 TEU. Germanischer Lloyd certifies the fleet under the ISO norms 9001 for quality and 14001 for environmental protection, confirming that it meets the very highest international standards.

2004

With an operative result of 343 million euros, Hapag-Lloyd achieves a new record result. TUI’s supervisory board initially decides to have part of the Group floated on the Stock Exchange, but then annuls this decision since the price to be realized per share does not match the value of the company. Hapag-Lloyd now focuses on shipping, and the VTG, Pracht and Algeco logistics activities are surrendered.

2005

Fresh record: Hapag-Lloyd attains turnover of 2.7 billion euros and a result before revenue taxes of 278 million euros. 95 percent of revenues are generated by container shipping, the remainder by the cruise business. The Group continues to accord high priority to training and offers altogether over 160 training places. TUI acquires 89.5% of the British-Canadian shipping company CP Ships.

2006

After integrating CP Ships, Hapag-Lloyd is the world’s fifth largest container shipping company, with 8,571 staff in shipping and a fleet of 138 freighters with total capacity of 467,000 TEU, and transporting 5,004,000 TEU. With the "Chicago Express", the company puts into service its second state-of-the-art training ship, one the world’s largest, with 15 trainees and two training officers on board in addition to the crew.

2007

Container volumes transported are up on the previous year’s at almost 5.5 million TEU, turnover totals more than 6.2 billion euros. Hapag-Lloyd orders eight further 8,750-TEU newbuildings. Germanischer Lloyd awards the company as the first shipping line in the world the "GL Excellence - 5 Stars" rating for especially high standards of safety, quality, industrial health and safety and environmental protection.

2008

With the "Bremen Express" and "Kuala Lumpur Express", Hapag-Lloyd names two more 8,750-TEU containerships in March and April. In March TUI takes the decision to put Hapag-Lloyd up for sale. On 12 October, after a tendering procedure, it is confirmed that the Albert Ballin consortium made up of the City of Hamburg, Kühne Holding AG, Signal Iduna, HSH Nordbank, M.M.Warburg Bank and HanseMerkur will take over a majority share of Hapag-Lloyd. The remaining share stays with TUI.

2009

On 23 March the Hamburg consortium acquires 56.67 percent of Hapag-Lloyd’s shares, with 43.33 percent remaining with TUI. The year is overshadowed by the economic crisis, with a steep drop in revenues and earnings. An exceptional programme of savings is implemented, while various initiatives on capital by the owners strengthen the shipping line’s equity base. The City of Hamburg and the German government make available a credit guarantee. With the market environment becoming increasingly stable during the second half of the year, however, this guarantee is not needed in 2009.

2010

With the far-reaching savings programme that among other measures involved all staff foregoing part of their salary, and the rapid recovery of the world economy steers Hapag-Lloyd out of the crisis. Indeed, the year closes with the best result in the more than 160-year corporate history. In December Hapag-Lloyd orders four containerships each of 13,200 TEU, changing the order for six further newbuildings placed in early 2008 equally into 13,200 TEU ships. The ten units will be delivered between mid-2012 and the end of 2013. Furthermore, Ballin House is bought back from TUI. At the Year End TUI’s share of Hapag-Lloyd increases to 49.88 percent with the Hamburg Consortium holding 50.12 percent.

2011

After the record year, in 2011 an unnecessary rates battle by two major competitors for market share prevents all carriers from being able to pass on steeply increased oil and bunker prices to the customers. An extremely challenging year ends with only a small deficit, while almost all competitors book heavy losses running into triple-digit millions. In the summer Hapag-Lloyd celebrates the 125th anniversary of its Far East and Australia services. Shortly before the end of the year, Hapag-Lloyd also joins five Asian partner shipping companies in launching the new G6 Alliance for the Asia-Europe trade.

2012

In February, the City of Hamburg announces that it will take over further Hapag-Lloyd shares from TUI. This means that the Albert-Ballin Consortium, including the City as a shareholder, holds 78% of Hapag-Lloyd and TUI the remaining 22%, from the end of June. March sees the start of the G6 Alliance with Hapag-Lloyd and five Asian partner shipping lines cooperating in the Asia-Europe trade. The new powerful alliance is a success. The first three 13,200 TEU newbuilds which are deployed into service in 2012 are also sailing in the G6 Alliance Far East services. In mid-August the first of the ships in this mega-class, the “Hamburg Express” is named at a major celebration in Hamburg.

2013

In the first quarter, the possibility of a merger with Hamburg Süd is explored, but the negotiations are ended without result on 24 March by the shareholders of Hamburg Süd. In 2013, four additional new ships with 13,200 TEU capacity are taken into operation. In autumn, the Albert Ballin Consortium disbands as planned. The members of the consortium instead agree upon a cooperation agreement. In autumn, Hapag-Lloyd issues a bond of 400 million Euro that is oversubscribed several times. At the end of the year, talks begin with the Chilean shipping company CSAV, number 20 in the world. The aim is a take-over of the container business of CSAV. The G6 Alliance also decides to expand its successful cooperation to all East West trades from mid-2014.