By Costas Paris

Maersk Line, the shipping arm of Danish conglomerate A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S and the world's leading container shipping operator, is looking to buy German peer Hamburg Süd to boost its presence in trades from Latin America to the U.S., Australia, Asia and Europe, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Maersk Line, which moves about 15% of global seaborne freight, has publicly said it is looking for acquisitions to increase its market share during one of the most challenging times for the industry, with freight rates well below sustainable levels over the past two years.

"Maersk will be looking into Hamburg Süd should it go on sale," one person with direct knowledge of the matter said. "They are interested in acquiring the brand, which involves Hamburg Süd's ships, customers and staff, rather than just cherry picking some vessels."

Hamburg Süd, the world's seventh-biggest container operator in terms of capacity, is part of the Oetker Group, a family-owned German conglomerate, involved in shipping, banking, food and beverages.

The Wall Street Journal last week reported that the Oetker family is discussing a sale of the shipping business, which may go on the block by the end of the year.

Hamburg Süd has 3% share of global container capacity, according to data provider Alphaline. It moves 600,000 containers aboard roughly 70 ships, and its fleet is worth around $1.4 billion.

Write to Costas Paris at costas.paris@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 28, 2016 08:34 ET (13:34 GMT)

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