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Hapag-Lloyd's History

Hapag-Lloyd AG was formed on September 1st, 1970, as a result of the merger of Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag) and North German Lloyd (NDL). But the origins of these shipping lines go back much further: Hapag was founded in Hamburg in 1847 by local merchants and NDL in Bremen in 1857. The lines initially carried mainly European emigrants eager to start a new life in America. The relationship between Hapag and NDL was for a long time something special, for while they were competitors, from the 19th century onwards they both repeatedly established joint ventures.
Under its Director-General Albert Ballin (1857-1918), who is also credited with having invented the cruise, Hapag rose to the top of the world shipping sector around the turn of the century in terms of tonnage, while NDL became the shipping line carrying the largest number of passengers. Ballin focused at an early stage on cargo transport in addition to carrying passengers.

World War I caused the loss of their fleets and worldwide liner networks for both companies. During the 1920s, nevertheless, by cooperating with international partners they succeeded in rebuilding both very rapidly. After the strains of the world economic crisis had been endured, World War II once again led to the loss of ocean-going ships and market positions.

From 1950 Hapag and North German Lloyd’s re-entry into liner shipping was very largely in the form of jointly operated services. In 1970 Hapag and NDL decided to merge in response to the rapid growth of container transport that was compelling shipping lines to invest massively in new ships and containers.

In 2005, Hapag-Lloyd acquired the British-Canadian container line CP Ships, thereby becoming one of the leading liner shipping companies of the world.

In October 2008 TUI AG sold the majority of the shares of Hapag-Lloyd (56.67%) to the Albert Ballin consortium consisting of the City of Hamburg, Kühne Holding AG, Signal Iduna, HSH Nordbank, M.M.Warburg Bank and HanseMerkur. The remaining shares are still held by TUI AG.

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