France's CMA CGM to reinforce Singapore's position as a key maritime hub

NOL group president and CEO Ng Yat Chung (left) shaking hands with CMA CGM vice-president Rodolphe Saade during a press conference on Dec 7, 2015.
NOL group president and CEO Ng Yat Chung (left) shaking hands with CMA CGM vice-president Rodolphe Saade during a press conference on Dec 7, 2015.PHOTO: NOL, CMA

SINGAPORE - Shipping giant CMA CGM will "increase its commitment" to Singapore and its leadership in the maritime and shipping sector, vice-chairman Rodolphe Saade told a press conference on Monday.

This is as the firm, which has offered to buy shipping line Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) for $3.38 billion, plans to expand and strengthen its presence here as part of the enlarged entity.

Mr Saade said that CMA CGM will establish its regional head office here and use Singapore as a key hub in Asia.

"We will increase significantly our volume at PSA," he said. The container ports here are run by port operator PSA.

CMA CGM will eventually consider a listing of the combined entity after the acquisition of NOL comes through, pending a series of anti-trust approvals from the United States, Europe and China, added Mr Saade.

"Why not Singapore," he said.

Both NOL and CMA CGM have been in exclusive talks for the buyout since a year ago.

The offer price of $1.30 a share represents a 6.1 per cent premium over NOL's last closing price of $1.225 on Friday, before a trading halt was called on Monday morning.

The acquisition would mark the first and largest consolidation for the industry in recent years, as global shipping continues to be dragged down by slowing demand and severe overcapacity.