March 25 - It would appear that the attempt to create the fourth-largest container shipping company by capacity has hit the rocks as Germany's Hapag-Lloyd and Hamburg S

A statement issued yesterday by Hapag-Lloyd indicated the talks were suspended at the request of the Oetker family, which owns Hamburg Süd.

Reports in the mainstream media suggest that the main reason for this decision is that both owners could not reach agreement on a fair structure for the transaction.

The two container shipping companies said in December they were exploring a merger to create a global player better able to survive the sustained downturn in the container shipping sector.

A tie-up would have allowed the two companies to better challenge larger rivals.