Speculation is growing in Tokyo that Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) — Japan’s third-largest shipping company — is a takeover target of boxship leader Maersk Line.

Local sources even suggest the 37.13% stake built up in K Line by Singapore-based Effissimo Capital over the past year is backed by the Danish shipping giant, which mostly wants to acquire the Japanese company’s liner business. Boxship operations account for 45% of K Line’s annual revenue.

In response to the talk, a K Line executive flatly denies that it is a takeover target.