Merger rumours send HMM and Hanjin share prices into a tailspin

Rumours on plans to merge South Korea’s top two shipping lines simply refuse to die down, the uncertainty plaguing the share prices of Hanjin Shipping and Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM).

Local newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported this morning that the South Korean government will look at the shipping merger soon when a vice ministerial meeting on corporate restructuring is convened. The report was dismissed by the Financial Services Commission which maintains the government has not sought a merger. Both HMM and Hanjin continue to deny that Seoul is pushing for the pair to merge.

Nevertheless, the JoongAng Ilbo report scared investors with HMM’s share price sliding as much as 15% in early trading and Hanjin Shipping’s declining 5.8%.

Speculation on a government-coerced merger between these two rivals has been growing for the past six weeks.

Combining the pair would catapult them up to fourth spot in the global liner trades, according to Alphaliner, breaking the 1m slot barrier and positioning them as Asia’s largest containerline, larger than Taiwan’s Evergreen. The pairing would have a very strong position on the transpacific in particular.

Statistics provided exclusively to Splash by show the combined entity would rank as the 19th largest shipping line in the world with a combined fleet worth more than $4bn.

What if Hanjin & HMM Combined - PROOF 05 copy

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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