LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) – A unit of Swiss shipping group MSC has bought a stake in U.S. ports operator Total Terminals International (TTI) from Hanjin, MSC said on Wednesday, having overcome objections from the South Korean line’s U.S. creditors.
Privately owned MSC, the world’s no.2 global shipping line, said in a statement its subsidiary Terminal Investment Ltd. (TiL) had completed the acquisition in conjunction with South Korea’s Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), which would see TiL assuming an 80 percent stake and HMM having the remaining 20 percent in TTI.
Last month, a U.S. judge gave the green light for the sale of failed Hanjin’s stake in TTI despite objections from container companies owed money by Hanjin, concerned whether the shipping group was getting the best price.
The TTI sale included Terminal Investment forgiving $54.6 million in debt owed by Hanjin.
The U.S. judge said the sale was supported by the ports of Seattle and Long Beach.
TTI leases and operates container terminals in Long Beach and Seattle on the West Coast of the United States.
“Our focus throughout the acquisition consultation has been, and will continue to be, rebuilding the business and servicing the needs of our affiliated shipping line MSC, its 2M partner Maersk, and our new joint venture partner HMM,” Til president Alistair Baillie said in a statement.
Container lines are battling their worst ever downturn due to a glut of ships and weaker demand – prompting rivals to form vessel sharing arrangements including the 2M alliance between MSC and the world’s number one player Maersk.
Heavily indebted South Korean line HMM said in December it had agreed to form a co-operative relationship with the 2M shipping alliance that fell short of full-fledged membership.
TTI saw a steep drop in its container traffic after Hanjin, the world’s seventh-largest container line, filed for court protection from its creditors in August last year.
The sale includes all of Hanjin’s equity interests and shareholder loans, in both TTI and the associated terminal equipment leasing company, Hanjin TEC Inc, MSC said. (Reporting by Jonathan Saul; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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