Court decides to sell Hanjin Shipping’s Asia-US network


The Seoul court said Friday it has decided to sell the core business route of Hanjin Shipping as part of court receivership moves to secure cash.

Seoul Central District Court, which is in charge of the court receivership of the near-bankrupt company, said it will put up a public notice of sale for Hanjin’s Asia-US shipping network and will receive letters of intent by Oct. 28. The prices have not been determined yet.

The Asia-US route is one of the core assets of the company, drawing around 3 trillion won ($2.6 billion) in annual sales. Hanjin’s US network had stood at sixth in market share until the court receivership was initiated.

The sale includes Hanjin’s five containers, seven overseas subsidiaries, freight distribution system and some 500 US office employees, the court said. The bidding is slated for Nov.7.

As the court moves to sell Hanjin’s core asset, attention is being paid to who will join the bidding.

Korea’s No. 2 shipper Hyundai Merchant Marine has reportedly started reviewing the asset value of Hanjin’s Asia-US network, but the company remains cautious, as any massive injection could be a strain for Hyundai who has just completed its creditors-led self-recue plans.

The changed market share of Hanijn’s network may also pose a dilemma for the Hyundai shipper. The actual market share of Hanjin’s Asia-US route, which used to record 7 percent, has plummeted to zero since the court receivership began last month.

“(The company) will decide whether to join the bidding after details of the sale are released,” said Hyundai Merchant Marine.

Speculation is also growing that the world’s top two shippers — Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company — are interested in taking over the cash-strapped company’s business. Since last month, the two global companies have expanded their business in the Asia-US route.

Some speculate that the two shipping giants’ potential move to take over Hanjin’s asset could impact Hyundai’s attempt to join the world’s largest container shipping alliance 2M.

Hyundai and its main creditor Korea Development Bank inked a memorandum of understanding in July with 2M over joining the alliance which Maersk and MSC are also joining. The 2M membership was one of the conditions that Hyundai had to meet to avoid court receivership. The official contract is to be made next month.

“If 2M dominates the US network (through Hanjin’s route), the alliance may reconsider the sales through Hyundai, making it more difficult for Hyundai to join the group,” said East Asia logistics professor Han Jong-kil from Sungkyul University in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province.

MSC Senior Vice President Caroline Becquart also mentioned last month that Hyundai joining 2M was by no means fixed and that further negotiations were necessary.

Source: The Investor

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