South Korean ocean carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) is still in the running to buy a majority stake in an operator of a container terminal at California’s Port of Long Beach, currently held by its bankrupt compatriot Hanjin Shipping, the company’s CEO Yoo Chang-keun was reported as saying.
Last week, it was reported that HMM decided to pull out of a joint bid with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) to acquire a 54 percent stake in Total Terminals International (TTI), and go for a minority stake in the operator instead.
This week, Yoo said that a consortium led by HMM is ”highly likely to be chosen as the preferred bidder for Hanjin’s U.S. port terminal,” warning that the process could potentially be dragged out due to complex procedures, according to Yonhap News.
At this point, it is unclear if the consortium Yoo was referring to is the one with MSC, or if HMM entered another partnership following the reported split with MSC.
HMM has already been named the preferred bidder for a container terminal in Algeciras, Spain, which is also partly owned by Hanjin Shipping. The deal is expected to be finalized by year end, Yoo said, adding that HMM is interested in acquiring other assets of Hanjin Shipping.
Earlier this month, HMM agreed to join the 2M alliance between Maersk Line and MSC as a ”strategic partner”. The partnership is a combination of slot exchanges and slot purchases between the three parties, with Maersk Line and MSC also taking over a number of charters and operations of vessels currently chartered to HMM.
The move, which was made amid the current weak demand in the container shipping industry, was part of HMM’s debt restructuring plan.
Looking ahead, Yoo believes that an improvement in freight rates and the company’s measures to reduce costs will translate to improved profitability in the first quarter of 2017.
HMM also plans to place an order for five containerships and up to five oil tankers which will replace the company’s outdated ships, Yoo said.
World Maritime News Staff