Report: MSC's Value Makes Apontes the Wealthiest Family in Switzerland

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Published Oct 17, 2022 4:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

Mediterranean Shipping Company is famously quiet about its finances, but some straightforward math suggests that its founding family is the wealthiest in Switzerland - a nation with no shortage of billionaires. In a detailed new profile of the company's inner workings, Swiss outlet Le Matin Dimanche estimates that MSC's enterprise value is in the range of $100 billion, all of it held by founder Gianluigi Aponte and his family. 

MSC does not publish its earnings, so the valuation stems from an estimate based upon the income of MSC's competitors. An ultra-tight market and soaring rates have made the business extraordinarily profitable for all ocean carriers over the past year, and it stands to reason that MSC would be no exception. John McCown, founder of Blue Alpha Capital, estimated MSC's earnings for the one-year period from June 2021 to June 2022 at nearly $27 billion. By Le Matin's calculations, this is enough to put MSC's value in the range of $100 billion. (Just going by asset value alone, the company's fleet is worth more than $40 billion, according to VesselsValue.) 

Without considering any family-held stock, real estate or cash assets, the $100 billion liner business valuation would be enough to make the Apontes the wealthiest family in Switzerland by a factor of three.

The Apontes have a long history of investing earnings back into their business, and that pattern only accelerated in the late pandemic era when rates took off. MSC was among the most active charterers and secondhand buyers in the containership market at its peak, absorbing tonnage at prices that might make others blanche. The extra secondhand purchases put MSC past its 2M Alliance partner Maersk, the former number-one container carrier, into the top slot for the first time. 

MSC has also not been shy about ordering more new tonnage at peak pricing in order to extend its lead. It has a 126-ship, 1.8 million TEU orderbook, which is more than twice as large as any other carrier's. As the leading shipyards filled up over the past year, MSC made sure that its new vessels have an ample share of the available slots. "Today the shipyards are overwhelmed, but [MSC] have taken the lead, they have ordered their boats first!” Stefan Verberckmoes of Alphaliner told Le Matin.