The three largest shareholders of German liner company Hapag-Lloyd have extended an agreement giving them majority control for two more years.

Chile’s Compania Sud Americana de Vapores (CSAV), Germany’s Kuhne Maritime and the City of Hamburg will retain their combined 73.6% stake in the world’s fifth-largest liner operator through to the end of 2026.

The agreement was originally set to expire at the end of 2024, and there was speculation that shareholders might seek to cash in on the high share price.

There was also pressure for the City of Hamburg, which owns 13.9% stake in the German carrier through its investment vehicle HGV, to bow to political pressure to sell its stake.

“This is very good news,” said Oscar Hasbun, chief executive of CSAV.

“As this alliance has provided stability to the corporate governance of Hapag-Lloyd and will allow us to continue to project the good work performed until now.”

Santiago-based CSAV, which is controlled by the Luksic family, owns 30% of the liner operator.

The outfit has built up its stake since 2014 when Hapag-Lloyd acquired the container operations of the Santiago-based shipping company.

A further tranche of around 30% of shares is owned by Kuhne Maritime companies controlled by Hamburg businessman Klaus-Michael Kuhne.

Kuhne and the City of Hamburg acquired their stakes in Hapag-Lloyd in the wake of the 2008 global economic crisis.

The move was seen at the time as helping to stabilise the carrier and prevent a hostile takeover from rival liner operators.

The partners later decided to form a shareholders pact to ensure that Hapag-Lloyd could not be sold, split up or move substantial parts of its operation out of Hamburg.

That has provided the stability for Hapag-Lloyd to grow in size through mergers and acquisitions.

Since 2017, Hapag-Lloyd has acquired United Arab Shipping Co, Rotterdam-based NileDutch, and last month the African liner specialist Deutsche Afrika Linien (DAL).

A good year

Hapag-Lloyd shareholders have benefited from a 200% rise in the share price in 2021, and a further 10% in the first quarter of the current year, according to Drewry Maritime Financial Research.

The company benefited from a huge increase in revenues last year that saw retained earnings triple from €4.1bn ($4.37bn) to €12.6bn.

Other significant shareholders in the company are the Qatar Investment Authority, which owns 12.3%, and the Public Investment Fund on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has a 10.2% stake. Hapag-Lloyd has a free float of 3.6%.