Bidding starts for South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co

Hanjin Shipping Co. has received an initial five offers for its Asia-US business.

South Korea’s largest container line filed for bankruptcy in August due to excess capacity, a slowdown in global trade, and falling demand for shipping.

Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., Korea Shipping Association, Korea Line Corp. and private equity firm Hahn & Co. are among those that have expressed an initial interest. The Seoul Central District Court, overseeing the receivership, has not disclosed who the fifth bidder is, fuelling much speculation.

“The real issue will be the price and how one evaluates intangible assets,” said Ma Ji-hwang, a senior researcher at Hana Institute of Finance in Seoul. “That’s why the due diligence process will be important to shed light on what assets will be available in the sale. The Asia-U.S. shipping operation is pretty much what’s going to be left of Hanjin.”

The South Korean government said that Hyundai Merchant will serve as the national flag carrier when carrying the country’s exports and is looking to improve the local shipping industry’s competitiveness.

“Exports are very important for South Korea,” Ma said. “That’s why the government will try to bolster Hyundai Merchant and buying Hanjin’s asset could help build up scale.”

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SOURCE: [Bloomberg]

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