CMA CGM is poised to order up to 20 wide-beam, conventionally fuelled panamax containership newbuildings worth $1.2bn.

It has signed letters of intent with two Chinese yards — state-owned Qingdao Beihai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry and privately owned, Singapore-listed Yangzijiang Shipbuilding.

Sources said CMA CGM has agreed with each yard to build a series of up to 10 vessels, which are being discussed under the code­ name “Project Slade”.