NOL enters into exclusive talks with CMA CGM over its possible sale to French firm

Neptune Orient Lines said it has entered exclusive talks with France's CMA CGM over a potential takeover of the Singapore container transportation group.
Neptune Orient Lines said it has entered exclusive talks with France's CMA CGM over a potential takeover of the Singapore container transportation group.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) said it has entered exclusive talks with France's CMA CGM over a potential takeover of the Singapore container transportation group.

NOL said in a statement on Nov 21 it had entered the exclusive talks with respect to a potential acquisition by way of preconditional voluntary offer with the world's third-largest shipping liner, which has until Dec 7 to "complete customary due diligence on NOL and its subsidiaries and negotiate the definitive agreements to be entered into in relation to the offer".

NOL earlier this month flagged it was in preliminary discussions with CMA and Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, the world's largest container transportation group, over its possible sale.

NOL, which has a market capitalisation of about $2.8 billion, was founded in 1968 as Singapore's national shipping line. It has been mired in debt and unable to return to profit in recent years amid the downturn in global shipping.

Last month, the firm reported a wider net loss of US$96.1 million (S$137 million) for the third quarter - worse than the loss of US$52.3 million in the same period last year - as muted demand and lower freight rates continued to depress earnings.

Shares of NOL, which is 67 per cent owned by Temasek Holdings, ended at $1.12 last Friday. The counter is up about 20 per cent this year, driven in part by constant market talk of a buyout.