Ship sail

Container ship boom doubles MSC owner Gianluigi Aponte’s fortune to $19 billion

A massive expansion of Mediterranean Shipping Co’s (MSC) container ship fleet has doubled principal Gianluigi Aponte’s fortune.

The pandemic shut down the Swiss-based group’s cruise ship fleet for a while, but record freight rates for boxships mean Aponte is now worth $19 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

This makes the former Italian banker the 77th richest person in the world.

VesselsValue records that MSC has purchased over 150 container ships since the start of 2021.

The group has been “incredibly quick” to grow its business, said Felix Mathes, cargo analyst at VesselsValue.

“MSC was very confident in what they were doing,” he added.

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Shipbroker Clarksons lists 494 vessels in the owned fleet, with 55 on order.

The value of some of the older Panamaxes jumped nearly 400%, helping the group go on a buying spree.

In April, MSC agreed to buy the African transport and logistics business of France’s Bolloré for 5.7 billion euros ($6 billion), including debt.

The group also took a stake in Italian ferry operator Moby in March.

Airline offer

And in January, MSC teamed up with German flagship airline Deutsche Lufthansa to bid on ITA, the successor to Alitalia, which cost the Italian government billions of euros in bailouts.

Aponte, now 81, acquired his first vessel in 1970 after quitting a job in banking.

Since then, private enterprise has also developed in port terminals. His son Diego is chairman of the group and his daughter Alexa is chief financial officer of the group.

Like Aponte, other logistics billionaires have sought to take advantage of skyrocketing freight rates in the fallout from the pandemic.

Klaus-Michael Kuehne, the German tycoon who owns freight forwarder Kuehne + Nagel International and investor in the Hapag-Lloyd container line, doubled his stake in Lufthansa last month.