NOL share trading halted ahead of possible announcement on buyout offer by French firm

The headquarters of Neptune Orient Lines in Singapore.
The headquarters of Neptune Orient Lines in Singapore. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Neptune Orient Lines, the South-east Asian container shipping company that is in talks to be sold to France's CMA CGM SA, halted trading of its shares on Monday (Dec 7) ahead of an announcement.

The Singapore-based company requested for the suspension in a 7.36am filing to the stock exchange. CMA CGM had until Monday to complete due diligence and negotiate the definitive agreements for the offer, Neptune Orient had said. 

A deal would combine Neptune Orient and the world's third-largest container company to strengthen their positions against market leaders A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S and Mediterranean Shipping Co. Liners have idled about 5 per cent of the global fleet, reduced expenses, sold assets and cut employees in an attempt to stem years of losses as sluggish global growth and an oversupply of vessels eat into shipping rates. Neptune Orient has reported losses five years out of the last six despite its efforts to cut costs.

CMA CGM is in talks with lenders to finance its potential takeover bid for Neptune Orient, people with knowledge of the matter said last week. The French shipping company is in discussions with banks including BNP Paribas SA, HSBC Holdings Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. for loans to back an offer for Neptune Orient, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.