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Cosco Eyes PIL Takeover

Image: Cosco Shipping Holdings Co.

Laxman Pai

After buying several container factories from its smaller competitor Singapore-based shipping company Pacific International Lines (PIL), China's Cosco Shipping Holdings Co. is eyeing it as a potential takeover target.

The Chinese state-run ocean carrier had bought part of debt-ridden PIL's container-manufacturing business, and executives at the Chinese carrier believe they could wrap up a deal for the entire business if family-owned PIL's owners decide to sell, reported WSJ.

Cosco Shipping is looking to expand its footprint in developing markets and a take over would be an edge towards deeper logistics services beyond conventional ocean shipping, with a distinctive Asian focus.

According to Paris container research house Alphaliner, if such a deal went through, it would place Cosco very close to the Mediterranean Shipping Co's (MSC) 3.73 million TEU capacity and ranking as the world's No 2 carrier.

"Cosco remains the front-runner in any potential takeover of PIL, due to close historical ties and the complementary route network," said Alphaliner.

"Although PIL has repeatedly denied it is for sale, it remains an attractive takeover target with an established market presence in the Africa, Latin America, Middle East, South Pacific and intra-Asia trades," it added.

However, the two operators aren't in formal acquisition talks.

PIL is run by the Teo family and company Chairman Teo Siong Seng is a board member of Cosco's Hong Kong-listed container-shipping flagship unit. PIL relies on the Chinese operator to charter ships.

The shipping line has been in financial distress for a couple of years. PIL faces $1.08 billion in payments on short-term debt this June and is carrying a total of $3.46 billion in debt, Alphaliner said.

May 15, 2019

 

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