French carrier CMA CGM offers to buy NOL at $3.38b

Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), one of the pioneering companies in Singapore history, has received an offer from French carrier CMA CGM valuing it at $3.38 billion.

NOL said yesterday (7 Dec) that CMA CGM is offering $1.30 a share in cash. Temasek Holdings, which owns 67 per cent, has agreed to sell its shares. 

NOL has been looking for a buyer for months. It has been unable to return to profitability in recent years amid the downturn in global shipping. Privately owned CMA CGM is the world's third-biggest container shipping firm. 

The buyout will be one of the industry's largest, and CMA CGM plans to delist NOL. The acquisition will allow CMA CGM to "cement its position among the global leaders in the container shipping industry", said an NOL statement to the Singapore Exchange.

Asked about the impact on NOL staff in Singapore, NOL CEO Ng Yat Chung said: “It is too early for us to comment on any manpower rationalization. If there is any such measure taken, employees will be adequately compensated.” Fewer than 1,000 of its 7,400 employees worldwide are based in Singapore, he added.

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Sources: “French carrier offers $3.38b to buy out NOL” (The Straits Times”, 8 Dec 2015); “Temasek to sell entire NOL stake for S$2.3b” (TODAY, 7 Dec 2015)

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