At a glance: The Neptune Orient Lines story

Mr Ng Yat Chung (left), chief executive of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) and Mr Rodolphe Saadé, vice-chairman of CMA CGM shake hands. CMA CGM is buying NOL. PHOTO: CMA CGM, NOL

Here's a quick look at the journey of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) from its inception to buyout:

Dec 30, 1968

NOL is founded as Singapore's national shipping line with a fleet of just five vessels.

Nov 1969

The government transfered ownership of NOL to Singapore investment firm Temasek Holdings - the firm's biggest shareholder today with a 67 per cent stake.


With a 20-strong fleet, NOL turned its annual profits, despite a shipping industry slump, under managing director Goh Chok Tong who went on to become Singapore's second Prime Minister.

In 1975, NOL formed the ACE consortium with Orient Overseas Container Line, "K" Line and Franco-Belgian Services, with the Korean Shipping Corporation and Cho Yang joining two years later.

This new consortium became known as the "third force" in the container-shipping world and offere fixed-day weekly services between the Far East and Europe.


NOL listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange (known today as the Singapore Exchange), raising S$155 million. It used the funds to grow globally, diversifying away from container trade and into the bulk carrier market.


NOL acquired 150-year-old shipper American President Lines - now known as APL - for nearly US$825 million (S$1.15 billion).

Many analysts viewed it as expensive but the deal gave NOL the critical mass to compete globally on major container trades.

NOL also gained a network of logistics support and key terminals in the United States and Asia. NOL's ships still operate under the APL brand.

Early 2000s

In 2001, APL Logistics was established as a separate business unit.

NOL was seen as one of the strongest profit leaders within the industry, despite the industry entering another depression.

In July 2008, NOL put up a US$7 billion bid for the possible acquisition of Germany's Hapag-Lloyd - a move many analysts viewed as grossly overpriced - but pulled out of the process a few months later.

Late 2000s

In 2009, the company posted its worst quarterly loss in seven years, sinking to US$245 million in the first quarter of the year, due to a worldwide decline in shipping demand and falling freight rates. NOL was profitable in 2010 but has been in the red since 2011.

Feb 2015

NOL sold the profit-making APL Logistics to Japanese freight carrier Kintetsu World Express for US$1.2 billion.

The sale was part of the company's efforts to strengthen its financial position and focus on its loss-making container shipping business.

Dec 2015

France's CMA CGM, the world's third largest container shipping firm, launches a buyout offer for NOL at S$1.30 a share.

Compiled by ST Business

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