Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) was hit hard by collapsing freight rates and falling volumes, but managed to obtain a USD 707 million net profit in 2015 thanks to a 888 million gain from selling the APL Logistics.

According to NOL’s CEO Ng Yat Chung, particularly the last quarter of 2015 was difficult since the rates for container traffic went to an all-time low across major trade lanes as new vessel capacity came on stream amid softening market demand.”

“Nonetheless, APL continued to reap cost savings and yield improvements. On a full year basis, its total costs of sales per FEU continued to offset the decline in total revenue per FEU, helping APL to continue reducing losses.”

With the APL Logistics sale to Kintetsu World Express removed, the Singapore-listed company would have recorded a full-year net loss of USD181 million, with a USD77 million net loss coming in the fourth quarter alone.

The liner division, APL, saw its revenue fall 24% year on year to USD5.4 billion, driven down by a full-year drop in volumes of 13% to 2.46 million teu and a 17% decline in the key metric of average revenue per teu to USD1,887. In the last quarter, the revenue per box decline was even sharper, falling 22% compared with the same three months in 2014, mainly due to a reduction in backhaul volumes out of the United States and the Gulf.

APL president Ken Glenn said headhaul out of Asia was weak on most of the major trades and there were no indications of a reversal.

An offer by French line CMA CGM to acquire NOL for USD2.4 billion is awaiting approval from anti-trust authorities, and Ng said both sides have submitted all the information required in all jurisdictions. “We have not encountered any difficulties and continue to expect approval to come at some time in the middle of this year,” he said in a results call with reporters and analysts.