PARIS, Oct 20 (Reuters) – CMA CGM, the world’s third-largest container shipping firm, has already reimbursed half of a $1.6 billion bank loan taken out to fund its acquisition of Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), the French company said on Thursday.
CMA CGM announced the acquisition of NOL last December in a $2.4 billion deal that handed it market leadership on trans-Pacific routes and reinforced its global scale to help weather a prolonged downturn in container shipping.
The group, which has until August 2017 to pay back the loan, used a sale-and-leaseback deal for containers worth $578 million and a $259 million securitisation programme covering customer debts to finance the partial reimbursement, a spokesman said.
The financing operations and the loan repayment had taken place since the end of the first half, he added.
The group reported in its second-quarter financial report total cash of $2.4 billion as of June 30.
Banking sources had expected CMA CGM to use asset sales or securitisation to help repay the loan for the NOL deal.
The group, which completed the takeover of NOL in June, aims to generate $1 billion from asset sales after reviewing activities at the combined company. It also has a separate 18-month plan to reduce costs by $1 billion by the end of 2017.
The shipping downturn, linked to vessel overcapacity and faltering economic growth, contributed to the demise of the world’s seventh-largest container line Hanjin, which filed for receivership in August, leaving ships and cargo stranded at sea.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Gilles Guillaume, additional reporting by Robert Smith; Editing by Geert De Clercq)
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