The global container shipping business has a high concentration level, with the top 10 operators accounting for more than 60% of the total capacity. While Maersk and MSC are the two largest container shipping lines, a substantial share of their shipping capacity is leased (about 40 and 60% respectively). Ship chartering is usually done to lower operating costs and accommodate fluctuations in demand. If the demand declines, then the chartering contract is left to expire, and the owner retakes the ship.
In recent years, consolidation has been ongoing in the container shipping industry. For instance, in 2015, the Ocean Network Express line was founded by consolidating three Japanese carriers; NYK, MOL, and K Line. In 2016 United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) merged with Hapag-Llyod. In 2017, Maersk purchased Hamburg Sub, with the shipping line staying a distinct element. In 2018, the Chinese shipping giant COSCO acquired the Hong Kong-based OOCL.