Seoul denies it its trying to force Hanjin and HMM to merge

Following a local media report this morning that the government is set to discuss the merger of the nation’s top two shipping lines, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has issued a release dismissing the article in the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper.

“There is a need to maintain the existence of the two companies when considering the impact a merger could have on South Korea’s import- and export-oriented economy and global shipping alliances, as well as the transhipment competiveness of Busan port,” the ministry said in its rebuttal of the argument.

The two lines in question – Hanjin Shipping and Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) – belong to different container alliances, are fierce rivals and have both denied that Seoul is trying to coerce them to merge.

Ironically, it was just a month ago that the Korean minister for oceans and fisheries was urging smaller boxlines to merge or face extinction like the dinosaurs while speaking at the Danish Maritime Forum in Copenhagen.

The report from the Korean newspaper this morning – the latest in a series of merger rumour-fuelling dispatches from Seoul – sent both lines’ stock prices spiralling downwards.



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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