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.