French liner company CMA CGM has signed a letter of intent with two Chinese shipyards for the world's largest containership order, industry news outlet Trade Winds reported on Sunday.
The order is for nine vessels each with a capacity of 22,000 20-foot equivalent units, for a total of $1.44 billion.
The ships are to have dual power systems: the traditional bunker fuel oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), making them high value-added, the Chinese version of South Korean newspaper Korea JoongAng Daily reported Monday.
Of the nine ships, five will be built by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Co under State-owned China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC), while Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co (also under CSSC) will build the rest, the report said.
Three South Korean players also bid for the deal - Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.
An official from the South Korean shipbuilding industry was quoted as saying that "South Korean companies swept large containership deals in the global market previously. However, they now feel embarrassment that not only the market of low-end ships but also those of ultra-large and high value-added ships are being eaten into by China," business site Business Korea reported Monday.
The South Korean shipbuilding industry, which is already facing a lack of business, is concerned that it will keep falling behind Chinese yards, the media report noted.