CMA CGM invites bids from investors.
France"s CMA CGM has begun testing the intentions of investors who have expressed interest in providing the fresh capital it needs to restore itself to financial health.
According to French reports, the group gave investors until today to detail their propositions for investing in the group.
There have been hints, too, that the group could be looking for a cash input considerably higher than the $400m-$500m sum it indicated that it was seeking late last year.
Le Figaro newspaper reported recently that the group could be looking for more than twice this amount.
CMA CGM itself has declined to confirm the report, as it has refused to confirm reports that investors have been asked to submit their proposals for buying into its capital.
A number of parties have already expressed interest in taking a stake in the container line operator"s capital.
Among them are France"s Butler Capital, which participated in the privatisation of Mediterranean ferry operator SNCM in 2006, and US-based Apollo Management, best known for its $1bn acquisition of a 50% stake in Norwegian Cruise Line in early 2008.
A Qatari fund, reputed to have the favours of the Saadé family, is also thought to be in the running, as is the Louis Dreyfus commodities group in association with Goldman Sachs.
French shipping company Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, which broke away from the Louis Dreyfus commodities group under chairman Philippe Louis-Dreyfus in 2007, is thought to be involved in this latter initiative on its own account.
CMA CGM has indicated that it is looking to complete a capital increase before the end of the current semester, although latest indications suggest that the operation could take place during the summer.
In the meantime, the group is pursuing negotiations discreetly with its banks on the restructuring of its $5.6bn debt, as well trying to convince Korean shipbuilders to reschedule delivery of the more than 40 newbuildings it has on order with them.
It is expected to give more information about its current financial situation next month when it is due to announce its 2009 financial results after having revealed first half losses of $515m.