Hapag-Lloyd capable of hauling nearly 500,000 standard 20-foot containers
Germany's biggest shipping line, Hapag-Lloyd, has been sold to German investors in a deal that values it at 4.45 billion euros (6 billion dollars), owner TUI said Sunday.
A consortium of investors based in the port city of Hamburg will take majority control of Hapag-Lloyd, which specializes in sea transport of containers and is the world's fifth-biggest line in the container sector.
The city-state of Hamburg will acquire just under one quarter of Hapag-Lloyd in the deal.
Neptune Orient Lines of Singapore had earlier dropped out of bidding for the Hamburg shipping company.
Package-holidays group TUI will retain one third of Hapag-Lloyd, which grew in 2005 through the takeover of CP Ships of Canada. Hapag-Lloyd has annual revenues of just under 6 billion euros.
Once one of the world's leading shipping nations, Germany has seen its merchant fleet shrink over the years.
Shipping lines are currently being squeezed round the world by high fuel prices, a flattening in trade growth and sharp competition in freight rates.
Hapag-Lloyd operates 133 ships, some of them chartered from other owners, capable of hauling nearly 500,000 standard 20-foot containers.
Under the transaction approved by TUI's board Sunday, Hapag-Lloyd AG will be sold to a holding company for 4.45 billion euros and TUI will buy back 33.33 per cent of it for 700 million euros.
The rest will be held by the Albert Ballin consortium, which is headed by a businessman, Klaus-Michael Kuehne, and has the government of Hamburg as a partner with a 35-per-cent stake, costing the government 484 million euros, city spokesmen said.
The proceeds will fund a special dividend for TUI shareholders as well as investments to benefit TUI's core travel business.