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Singapore’s firm withdraws from Hapag-Lloyd bid

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October 11, 2008

Singapore’s firm withdraws from Hapag-Lloyd bid
Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) dropped out of the race to acquire TUI AG's Hapag-Lloyd container shipping unit on Friday, leaving just one bidder in the hunt, reported Reuters.

"NOL's offer has lapsed," it said in a statement.

This means that a group of Hamburg-based investors led by Klaus-Michael Kuehne -- head of Swiss logistics company Kuehne & Nagel -- and M.M. Warburg partner Christian Olearius is the only remaining bidder for Hapag-Lloyd.

A spokesman for the investor group said its offer still stood.

TUI said it was still going ahead with the bidding process for the world's fifth-largest container shipping group, but was retaining the option to cancel the sale.

The environment to sell Hapag-Lloyd has become more difficult since TUI decided to split its tourism and container shipping operations earlier this year.

Freight rates have slowed in the light of weakening economic growth and the financial crisis.

"NOL will now put all its energy into managing through the current container shipping down cycle and providing our customers with the service they have come to expect of our organisation," NOL Chief Executive Ron Widdows said.

The German tourism and shipping group's supervisory board will discuss the possible Hapag-Lloyd sale at a board meeting at the weekend, a TUI shareholder told Reuters.

"We know there is a board meeting at TUI during the weekend and that this issue is on the agenda," said Tor Olav Troim, an aide to Norwegian shipping tycoon John Fredriksen, who owns about 15 percent of TUI but is not represented on the board.

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