Narrowing Field in Battle for Hyundai Merchant Marine as LX Group Exits Race

Growing Concerns Over $6.2 Billion Price Tag as Harim Group and Dongwon Group Emerge as Key Contenders in Acquisition Bid

Charleston, SC, USA - May 20, 2023: Two large container ships, the outbound Hyundai Pride and the approaching CMA CGM T. Roosevelt, about to pass in Charleston Harbor.

In South Korea, recent reports indicate a narrowing field in the battle for the acquisition of Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), the nation’s premier shipping line, as logistics conglomerate LX Group withdraws from contention. HMM’s creditors, comprising the state-operated Korea Development Bank and Korea Ocean Business Corp, have initiated the sale of approximately 58% of HMM. However, mounting apprehensions surround the viability of the sale due to the substantial price tag, reaching up to $6.2 billion, raising concerns of a potential collapse of the transaction.

Harim Group, the controlling entity behind Korean shipping giant Pan Ocean, has forged an alliance with a local private equity firm in pursuit of the acquisition. Concurrently, Dongwon Group, a company with vested interests in seafood and logistics, has also emerged as a contender in the acquisition race.

A preferred bidder is anticipated to be unveiled within this month, aligning with the imperative of the state creditors to conclude the sale by the end of the year. HMM, the largest shipping enterprise in South Korea, commands a fleet comprising 88 containerships, five bulk carriers, 10 oil tankers, and four heavylift ships, alongside three Pure Car and Truck Carriers (PCTCs) currently under construction.

Under state control since 2016, following severe financial crises coinciding with the demise of Hanjin Shipping, HMM remains a key player in the maritime landscape. The ongoing process is part of a broader trend in South Korea, wherein several shipowners have been listed for sale throughout the current year.

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