Ocean Group plc

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Ocean Group
Industry Transport
Fate Merged with NFC plc
Successor Exel plc
Founded 1865
Defunct 2000
Headquarters London, UK

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.


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[edit]

A major restructuring exercise occurred in 1967 whereby all of the Ocean Steam Ship Company’s fleet operations were divided amongst 4 companies, each of which answered to the main board of the Ocean Steam Ship Company. The 4 fleet operating companies were: -

Subsidiaries and subsequent acquisitions[edit]

  • 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[edit]