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Evergreen Line will start negotiating orders with shipyards soon to build as many as 100 new container ships.

The company will select the shipyards and start negotiating ship specifications, construction volumes, delivery dates, ship prices, and payment terms in May.

According to an online report by the Journal of Commerce, Evergreen Group Chairman Chang Yung-Fa told the Japanese media that Evergreen Group recorded losses in 2009 for the first time since the company’s inception. The group’s overall losses totalled only $300 million but was able to return to profitability in the second half of 2009 by refraining from placing reckless vessel orders.

The Taiwanese carriers’ plans for new ships include orders for 32 vessels of a new type with capacity of 8,000 TEUs(20-foot equivalent units each), for 20 additional S-type (7,024-TEU) ships, for 20 additional U-type (5,364-TEU) ships and for 20 or more 2,000-TEU ships of a new type that will be used for feeder services.

Evergreen, which ranked as the world’s fourth-largest container line by capacity for at least the last five years, slid into fifth place this year as APL, which has also been cautious about ordering new ships, moved past it, the Journal of Commerce says, quoting Alphaliner.

Evergreen currently has a fleet of 148 container ships, with a total capacity of 551,490 TEUs, of which it owns 87, charters 61 and has none on order.

Chang was quoted as saying Evergreen plans to negotiate orders with shipyards in South Korea, Taiwan and China, including such shipyards as STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, CSBC Corp., Taiwan and Nantong COSCO KHI Ship Engineering (NACKS).  Several Japanese shipyards have also shown interest in building the new orders.

Evergreen has refrained from ordering its own new vessels for nearly 2 1/2 years. It stopped ordering new ships after it took delivery of the last of 10 S-type ships at the Kobe Shipyard of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The report says the company plans on ordering roughly 100 new vessels, of which the largest will be 8,000-TEU ships. It will order 32 of these ships as it intends to deploy eight ships with each of its four group companies in Taiwan, England, Italy and Singapore.

The company’s group headquarters in Taiwan will order these three types of large ships in bulk and then allot them equally among its four operating companies.

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