Shippers lay a course for Internet exchange

Giant ocean carriers take equity stakes in closely held Tradiant to launch an online marketplace intended to simplify the purchasing and supply-chain processes.

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A group of old-line ocean carriers are steaming into the open waters of Internet marketplaces, forming a new venture to facilitate transactions via the Web between players in international trade.

Giant shipping carriers such as APL, Canadian Pacific Limited and Mitsui OSK Lines said Monday that they have taken equity stakes in closely held Tradiant to launch a new online marketplace intended to simplify the purchasing and supply-chain processes for companies in the international shipping industry.

Tradiant, a start-up based in Alameda, Calif., develops Web-based software that handles cargo booking, tracking, scheduling and cargo forecasting.

Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed. The new venture, known as the Global Transportation Network (GTN), will operate as a separate company and is slated to be up and running in early 2001, the companies said.

The initiative is the most recent example of a traditional industry melding its older ways of conducting business with the faster speeds of the Internet. A number of companies in traditional industries including railroad and steel have created similar Internet services aimed at cutting purchasing costs and eliminating the mounds of paperwork typically involved in procurement by moving the process online.

Railroad giants Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific in May each invested in Arzoon, a closely held Internet company, to develop a new Internet service for rail customers to procure, execute and track freight movements using the Web.

Through GTN, the companies said they are aiming to provide customers a secure, easier and faster way to conduct business with carriers and manage core transactions such as shipping rates and contract management, booking and tracking.

Other founding partners that have invested in the new venture include international carriers Hanjin, Hyundai, K Line, Senator Lines, Yang Ming and Zim Israel Navigation Company.

Negotiations are taking place with other transportation providers that may join as founding partners, the companies said. Tradiant's chief executive, Aaron Sasson, will lead the new company, which will eventually have its own management team.