Singapore’s Neptune Orient Lines Limited (NOL) has confirmed the company is in “preliminary discussions” with both CMA CGM and A.P. Moeller-Maersk about a sale of the business to either of the European shipping giants.
Reports emerged on Friday that CMA CGM was carrying out due diligence with a view to taking over the Singapore line, which major shareholder Temasek put up for sale earlier this year. Maersk was also thought to be in discussion, but not at such an advanced stage.
NOL said in a Saturday release on SGX that the company has a duty to assess all options to maximise shareholder value and improve its competitiveness. As of the close of business on Friday, NOL shares were valued at S$1.045 ($0.74) having reached highs of S$6.10 ($4.29) back in 2007. The company has a current market value of $2.7bn.
NOL stated that there is no assurance that discussions will result in a definite sale or an offer made, but it remains no secret that Temasek has been keen to offload the struggling carrier.
While CMA CGM remains favourite to do a deal, it should be noted that Maersk has more than 120 vessels flagged in Singapore, which is its largest base outside of Denmark.