Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd, Singapore state-investment company has put its us dollar 1.7 billion container-shipping company up for sale.
Heavily indebted, money-losing Neptune Orient Lines Ltd., 65% owned by Temasek and listed in Singapore, has been shopped to prospective buyers in recent months. It has been in talks with one, but the two sides couldn’t agree on a price. The discussions could include other potential buyers.
NOL, known as Neptune Orient Lines, was earlier active in merger discussions with shippers including Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd AG and Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas (International) Ltd. There’s pressure to consolidate in the industry, which has suffered from overcapacity in recent years. The big three by capacity, Denmark’s A.P. Møller-Maersk A/S, Switzerland’s Mediterranean Shipping Co. and France’s CMA CGM SA, planned an alliance, only to have it scuttled last year by China’s Ministry of Commerce.
It’s unclear whether any of NOL’s potential merger partners would now be interested in acquiring the Singapore shipper. Hapag-Lloyd, a German-Chilean company since a merger last year with Chile’s Compania Sud Americana de Vapores SA, is planning an initial public offering that could value the world’s fourth-biggest container shipper at more than us dollar 5.5 billion.
The potential sale of NOL, which operates globally under the APL brand, was made easier when NOL sold its profitable logistics business, APL Logistics Ltd., for us dollar 1.2 billion to Japan’s Kintetsu World Express Inc. in May. Selling the logistics and container-shipping operations separately is likely to bring Temasek a better price than selling them together, because the two sides attract different buyers.