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NOL up for sale?

NOL up for sale?
Longstanding container shipping merger candidate Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) has been reportedly put up for sale.

The Wall Street Journal reported that NOL had been put up for sale by Singapore government investment company Temasek Holdings, that owns 65% of the container shipping line.

According the report NOL had been shopped to prospective buyers in recent months, and had talks with one, but the two sides could not agree on the price.

NOL has long been linked as a potential merger partner with Hapag-Lloyd, but the latter merged with the container line activities of Chile’s CSAV earlier this year.

Hong Kong’s family-owned Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) has been linked to a merger as well, although with little, if anything, in the way of substantive details. The latest report shed no light on who a potential buyer might be.

In February loss-making NOL announced the sale of its only profitable business, APL Logistics, for $1.2bn to Japan’s Kintetsu Worldwide Express, making a it a pure play container line with APL’s boxshipping its sole business.

Asked at the time of the announcement if NOL would sell if its liner business if it continued to lose money, president and ceo Ng Yat Chung described the question as “hypothetical”, but also said: “Your question is really are we open to options on the liner business. As part of business process we evaluate all options – and all means all."

In 2004 NOL attracted the attention of shipping magnate John Fredriksen, in apparent possible foray into container shipping, who built a stake in the publicly listed firm triggering a takeover offer from Temasek which took back majority control of the container line that it has retained to this day.

NOL has reported losses in every financial year between 2009 – 2014 with the exception of 2010.