Shares in the parent of much sought after Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) soared today on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to levels not seen since the first half of 2015 as the market talked up a merger with the world’s largest shipping line. Shares in Orient Overseas (International) Limited leapt more than 7% today, hitting HK$42.10 with 30 minutes left of trading.
Beijing-based business news firm Caixin has Cosco Shipping pegged as the buyer of OOCL, a sale that has been repeatedly hinted at to Splash in the past two weeks. The price of the Tung family controlled line is around $4.8bn, Splash understands.
The marriage between Cosco and OOCL is one that has been 20 years in the making.
The acquisition of OOCL would take Cosco Shipping – itself a recent merger between Cosco and China Shipping’s boxlines – just above France’s CMA CGM into third place in the global league of liners with a fleet in excess of 2.2m teu, cementing its position as Asia’s largest containerline. CMA CGM, Cosco Shipping, OOCL and Evergreen are all members of the Ocean Alliance, due to launch on April 1.
The parent of Cosco Shipping has just concluded the largest ship finance deal in history, securing a $26bn credit line with China Development Bank.
Spokespeople for both OOCL and Cosco Shipping refused to confirm the merger news.