Global shipbuilders are searching for ways of reducing cost and raise efficiency through integrating and modernizing facilities. South Korea, which has the world's top three shipyards, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) and Samsung Heavy Industries, constructed an unprecedented tonnage of vessels last year, assuming 37 percent of the global market. HHI has recently decided to take over Samho Heavy Industries, Korea's fourth largest shipbuilder, in a deal to be concluded shortly.
Following the takeover, together with an affiliated firm Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, HHI is expected to have an annual shipbuilding capacity of six million tons, and pull up its world market share above the 20 percent level, from the current 15 percent levels.
Japan's seven major ship building companies, which so far have only been discussing integration of their shipbuilding divisions, are now showing signs of actual mergers. Hitachi and NKK announced that they would each invest 50 percent stakes and inaugurate a new entity called Universal Shipbuilding in October. This new group is projected to handle construction orders worth 150 billion yen annually. IHI plans to split off its shipbuilding division and establish Marine United (MU), a warship company, jointly with Sumitomo Heavy Industries in October. Sumitomo plans to first hand over its war vessel unit to MU, and spin off its merchant vessel division by next April. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, whose plan to merge its shipbuilding unit with IHI was revoked, plans to split off its shipbuilding sector in October and launch a wholly-owned subsidiary called Kawasaki Shipbuilding.
European shipbuilders are also busy forming alliances and cooperation agreements. Norwegian Kvaerner group and Aker RGI of Germany have recently agreed on the merger of their shipbuilding units, which would give birth to Europe's largest and the world's fourth shipyard group.