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North China Lines sets course for Hong Kong listing

Hong Kong: North China Shipping Holding Co Ltd aims to raise at least US$700 million in a Hong Kong IPO, hoping to ride record freight rates for the transport of raw materials, sources said on Thursday.
The Hong Kong-based arm of privately run Hebei Ocean Shipping Co Ltd -- a Chinese shipowner and operator in international bulk cargo shipping -- could list as early as the end of 2007, several sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.
"We would like to speed up the process since the market is red hot and shipping rates are now at a record," a second source said.
The Baltic Exchange's dry freight Index has more than doubled this year and hit a record high of 9,259 on Wednesday.
Rival China Shipping Development Co has seen its share value double this year, while Pacific Basin Shipping, which operates smaller handysize ships, tripled this year to a record high on Thursday.
The North China initial public offering is likely to follow a listing by Sinotrans (Group) Co's resources shipping unit, which aims to raise $1.3 billion in November, sources have said.
. Privately owned Hebei Ocean owned 30 vessels -- including three Very Large Crude Carriers, 12 capesize vessels and 10 panamax ships with a total capacity of 4.15 deadweight tonnes as of end-June 2007, according to its Web site.
A third industry source said the firm would most likely include most of its shipping assets in North China's eventual public share float.
Controlled by Chairman Gao Yanming, Hebei Ocean -- once a loss-making firm, in the mid-1990s before Gao took control and turned it around -- today has more than 10 subsidiaries scattered across Hong Kong and mainland China's main ports, ranging from shipping agents to transporters of grain, iron ore, fertiliser, coal and crude oil. [28/09/07]

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