Deal close for Neptune Orient Lines to be sold for S$3.4b to French shipping firm: Report

The headquarters of Neptune Orient Lines in Singapore.
French company CMA CGM plans to offer about S$1.30 a share in cash for the Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines, sources said.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - France's CMA CGM SA is nearing a definitive offer to buy Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) for about S$3.4 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.

CMA CGM plans to offer about S$1.30 a share in cash for the Singapore-based container liner, the people said, asking not to be named ahead of a formal announcement. The offer will be announced as soon as Monday (Dec 7) in Singapore, they said. Neptune Orient shares were halted from trading, pending an announcement.

A deal would combine NOL 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.

CMA CGM plans to set up its regional headquarters in Singapore, the people said. Spokesmen for CMA CGM and NOL's controlling shareholder, Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings, declined to comment. A representative for Neptune Orient did not immediately respond to a request for comment.