Annual Report 2022

Business partners and customers

In its relationships with business partners, HHLA strives for integrity, fairness, responsibility and sustainability. To minimise the risks that may occur at the start of and during business relationships, HHLA uses a Group-wide business partner screening system. The system facilitates the recurring risk-based analysis and assessment of business relationships and possible measures to reduce risks. Risk and opportunity management

Customer structure

Capacity share by shipping line alliance

on Far East–Europe services as of 31.12.2022

Capacity breakdown by shipping line alliances (pie chart)
Source: Alphaliner Monthly Monitor, January 2023

The customer base in the Container segment consists mainly of shipping companies and freight forwarders. Globally operating container shipping companies account for the largest share of revenue.

In addition to regular changes to the network, the customer structure in the Container segment has been influenced by consolidation in the container shipping industry in recent years. Since they were established in 2017, the major shipping line alliances OCEAN Alliance, 2M and THE Alliance have dominated the market. In April 2020, the South Korean shipping company HMM joined THE Alliance as its fourth full member. Other than this, there have been no mergers or acquisitions among the top ten container shipping companies in recent years.

APM-Maersk and MSC, the shipping companies of the 2M Alliance, announced in January 2023 that they would not be extending their contracts and that the partnership would end in 2025. The OCEAN Alliance contract runs until 2027, while the contractual partnership of THE Alliance runs until 2030.

In the reporting year, HHLA’s customer base included all of the world’s top ten container shipping companies.

Top 10 shipping companies by transport capacity



Shipping company




thousand TEU



















OCEAN Alliance





COSCO Group (incl. OOCL)


OCEAN Alliance







THE Alliance





Evergreen Line


OCEAN Alliance







THE Alliance





HMM (Hyundai Merchant Marine)


THE Alliance





Yang Ming


THE Alliance









Source: Alphaliner Monthly Monitor, January 2023

New orders of container ships remained high in the reporting year, although not quite matching the order levels of 2021. Half of the ships ordered in 2022 will be equipped with alternative propulsion systems. This proportion was much lower in the previous year. Orders are distributed across all ship classes. The number of ships with a capacity of over 18,000 TEU, primarily used for the Far East–Northern Europe routes so critical to Hamburg, is set to rise significantly: 32 new ships are expected in 2023, with a further 21 ships in this class on the shipyards’ books for 2024 and 2025.

In ship handling, HHLA’s container terminals work with shipping companies on a generally neutral basis (multi-user principle) and offer a wide range of high-quality services. Shipping companies hold two non-controlling interests in HHLA. The shipping company Hapag-Lloyd holds a non-controlling interest of 25.1 % in the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA). Meanwhile, the Grimaldi Group holds a 49 % stake in the HHLA multi-function terminal Unikai, which is attributed to the Logistics segment.

As part of a planned partnership between HHLA and the shipping company China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), COSCO SHIPPING Ports Limited (CSPL), a member of the COSCO Shipping Group, is aiming to acquire a non-controlling interest in the HHLA Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT). This would make CTT a “preferred hub” for COSCO SHIPPING Lines in Europe. After HHLA and COSCO came to an arrangement following a standard investment review with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action regarding the details of COSCO's participation rights, the parties are now striving to finalise the transaction as quickly as possible. 

These kinds of investments in container terminals by shipping companies are widespread in the industry and standard practice. They aim to tie cargo volumes to the port over the long term, to optimise terminal capacity and to strengthen supply chains.

Shipping companies and forwarders are also the main clients of the Intermodal segment. As one of the leading providers of intermodal services, HHLA’s rail subsidiary METRANS assumes a neutral role in the intermodal market, which is characterised by an established number of public and private providers.

The services provided in the Logistics segment are aimed at various customer groups, ranging from steel companies and power plants (in the field of bulk cargo handling) to international operators of ports and other logistics centres (in the field of port consulting).

The Real Estate segment lets its office space and commercial premises in Hamburg to German and international customers from a variety of sectors: from logistics and trading companies to media, consulting and advertising agencies, fashion labels, hotels and restaurants, and companies in the creative sector.

Sales activities

As far as possible, all of HHLA’s sales activities follow the strategic approach of vertical integration, i.e. offering comprehensive transport and logistics services from a single source. This strategic approach is pursued by means of intensive, cross-segment dialogue between the sales organisations, joint customer visits and by attending events in the hinterland of seaports.

Revenue distribution by customer

of the container terminals at the main hub of Hamburg in 2022

Revenue distribution by customer (pie chart)

Sales activities in the Container segment are organised by means of key account management. The revenue share attributable to HHLA’s five most important customers of its Hamburg container terminals changed only marginally in the 2022 financial year to 75.1 % (previous year: 75.3 %). The revenue share attributable to the ten most important customers of the Hamburg terminals rose slightly to 96.1 % (previous year: 95.7 %). HHLA has maintained commercial relationships with the majority of its most important customers for well over two decades. HHLA concludes multi-year framework contracts with its shipping customers that set out both the scope and the remuneration of services. As the usage volume for these services is not fixed, there is no order backlog in the traditional sense for the specific services provided by HHLA.

In the Intermodal and Logistics segments, sales are generally managed locally by the individual companies. As a rule, no contracts are concluded regarding transport services; instead, the current transport or service requirements are provided to order.

The Real Estate segment’s sales team offers potential clients and tenants a wide range of services for properties in its two main districts – Hamburg’s Speicherstadt historical warehouse district and the northern banks of the river Elbe/fish market area – as well as for logistics properties in the Port of Hamburg.

A port’s catchment area.
Intermodal/Intermodal systems
Transportation via several modes of transport (water, rail, road) combining the specific advantages of the respective carriers.
Payments for investments in property, plant and equipment, investment property and intangible assets.
Revenue from sales or lettings and from services rendered, less sales deductions and VAT.
TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit)
A TEU is a 20-foot standard container, used as a unit for measuring container volumes. A 20-foot standard container is 6.06 metres long, 2.44 metres wide and 2.59 metres high.
In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.

Topic filter