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Handful of days for Hapag-Lloyd final bids

Singapore: Neptune Orient Lines, parent of shipping line APL, and a group involving the city of Hamburg will have to make their final bids for TUI AG's Hapag-Lloyd unit by the end of September.

"The deadline is at the end of this month," TUI spokesman Uwe Kattwinkel said in a Bloomberg interview, confirming a report in yesterday's Hamburger Abendblatt. However, the press agency quotes sources close to TUI as saying  
Europe's largest tour operator would really like bids to be sumbitted by Friday September 26. No date has been announced for a decision on the winner of the auction.

It has been widely reported that TUI expects "at least" 4 billion euros (US$5.6 billion) for Hapag, of which 1 billion euros will be assumption of debt. But it may struggle to get this price given the current economic climate and fears of imminent overtonnaging in the container sector, pundits reckon. TUI investors, among them Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen, have pressed Chief Executive Officer Michael Frenzel to halt the sale as shipping operators confront higher fuel costs and slowing global economic growth.

As regards NOL's position, "Due diligence process is still under way," Bloomberg reports company spokesman Paul Barrett as saying.  [23/09/08]

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