South Korea’s HMM sets sail as a ‘true flag carrier for the nation’

After what has been a traumatic year at Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) the line is now ready for a “new leap forward” as South Korea’s flag carrier. In a release yesterday, HMM, which unlike compatriot Hanjin Shipping managed to come through a lengthy restructuring, hailed Seoul’s decision to back HMM to bolster its fleet.

In a release entitled: ‘A new leap forward for a true flag carrier for the nation’, HMM applauded the Korean government’s decision to set up a state-backed ship financing company tentatively named Korea Ship Company (KSC) to provide financing for new vessels.

“Upon this opportunity, HMM aims for a new leap forward for a national flag carrier,” HMM said in the release.

HMM has submitted LOI for Hanjin’s Asia-US route and its terminal stake in California. HMM said and it is currently reviewing acquisition of Hanjin’s other assets and manpower.

In a further boost to HMM, its membership of 2M, the vessel sharing agreement between Maersk and MSC, looks set to be approved. HMM, having been spurned by members of the new THE Alliance container grouping surprised many by signing an MoU with Maersk and MSC to join 2M next April.

Entrance to 2M however had been in doubt. HMM senior management will have been relieved then to hear from Maersk’s chief commercial officer who was quoted this week as saying the Korean liner would be joining 2M “fairly soon”.

Meanwhile, a fifth Hanjin ship was arrested yesterday. Hanjin sought court protection at the end of August, becoming the biggest container bankruptcy in history with debts in excess of $5bn.

The 7,200 teu Hanjin China boxship was seized in Shanghai on Thursday after unloading its cargo, as a port operator sought debts of some $875,000.

Hanjin has until December 19 to submit a rehabilitation plan with sources suggesting it is trying to reposition itself as an intra-Asia player.


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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