Ocean Group plc

Ocean Group plc was a major British transport business. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

Ocean Group
FateMerged with NFC plc
PredecessorPalm Line 
SuccessorExel plc
HeadquartersLondon, UK


The company was founded by Alfred Holt and Philip Holt, as the Ocean Steamship Company, to provide a steamship service known as the Blue Funnel Line, between the United Kingdom and China.[1] It was generally known as Holts and had a trademark blue funnel on its ships.[1] For many years it used Swire Group as it shipping agents.[1] In 1947 it formed Malayan Airways.[1]

It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1965.[1] In 1969 it joined forces with British & Commonwealth Holdings, Furness Withy and P&O to form Overseas Containers Limited to exploit the introduction of containerization.[1] In 1972 it acquired William Cory, a major shipping agent, and the following year, it changed its name to Ocean Transport & Trading.[1] In 1986 it withdrew Overseas Containers Limited and in 1990 it renamed itself Ocean Group.[1]

In 2000 it merged with NFC plc to form Exel plc.[2]

Group members

A major restructuring exercise occurred in 1967 whereby all of the Ocean Steam Ship Company’s fleet operations were divided amongst four companies, each of which answered to the main board of the Ocean Steam Ship Company. The four fleet operating companies were: -

Subsidiaries and subsequent acquisitions

  • Seaway Car Transporters Limited were a wholly owned subsidiary of Elder Dempster
  • Guinea Gulf Line – formerly the John Holt Line - was acquired by Elder Dempster in 1965
  • Palm Line was acquired in 1984


Further reading

  • E.J. Gubbins. Managing Transport Operations. Kogan Page. ISBN 0-7494-3928-9.
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