CMA CGM confirms acquisition of NOL for $2.4bn

French container line CMA CGM has confirmed its acquisition of Singapore’s Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) with a cash offer of SGD1.30 ($0.93) per NOL share, valuing the deal at $2.4bn.

The strategic acquisition by CMA CGM will result in a combined turnover of $22bn and a fleet size of 563 vessels, giving it a global market share of approximately 11.5%.

Upon satisfaction of the pre-conditions, CMA CGM will launch an offer at a price of SGD1.30 per share, representing a 49% premium to NOL’s unaffected share price and a 33% premium to NOL’s three-month volume-weighted average share price to 16 July 2015.

Rodolphe Saade, vice chairman of CMA CGM, said: “By bringing together the know-how of both teams, the enlarged group will be even better positioned to provide premium services to its customers across all markets.

“At a time when the shipping industry is facing strong headwinds, scale is more critical then ever to capitalise on synergies and capture growth opportunities wherever they arise,” he said.

Saade added: “We recognised the strategic importance of Singapore as a key hub for maritime industry and we are committed to reinforcing its regional leadership.”

In this regard, CMA CGM plans to establish its regional head office in Singapore and use the city-state as a key hub in Asia.

NOL’s majority shareholders, the Singapore government owned Temasek and its affiliates, have undertaken to tender all of their shares in acceptance of the offer. Singapore-listed NOL operates under the APL brand, which operates 94 ships with a combined tonnage of 618,000 teu.

Ng Yat Chung, ceo of NOL, commented: "The combined market presence delivered by the transaction would achieve the scale needed to enhance competitiveness for NOL's operations and offer a clear and sustainable long term direction for the combined entity. The transaction would enable NOL to grow as part of a larger entity with the resources of the world's third largest container shipping line."

CMA CGM is currently the world's third largest shipping line with 469 vessels with a combined capacity of 1,781,000 teu.

The French liner said it intends to retain and develop the APL brand, as the combination of CMA CGM and APL's highly skilled teams would enable the combined group to offer a premium service to all its customers.

A joint press release by the two shipping groups said the offer will be launched without delay after approval of the relevant authorities which is expected by mid-2016.

Posted 07 December 2015

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Lee Hong Liang

Asia Correspondent

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