China COSCO Says It Probably Returned To Profit In 2013, Avoiding Delisting

cosco
A Chinese national flag flies in front of COSCO’s headquarters in Beijing in this August 26, 2010 file photo. (c) REUTERS/Barry Huang
reuters logoBy Yimou Lee

Jan 16 (Reuters) – China COSCO Holdings, China’s largest bulk shipping company, said on Thursday that it would have returned to profit in 2013, avoiding a possible delisting after losses for two consecutive years.

The company, controlled by state-owned China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, has posted losses for two years, and running a loss for a third year – ending Dec. 31, 2013 – would trigger a delisting from the Shanghai stock exchange.

China COSCO said after the market closed on Thursday that it would have swung into the black in 2013, helped by cost controls and investment gains from asset sales amid a sluggish shipping industry.

“Under the tough environment, the company has adopted various measures to increase revenues and cut costs,” the company said in a Chinese filing to the Shanghai stock exchange.

The Chinese shipping industry has suffered from overcapacity and shrinking orders due to a downturn in the global shipping industry following the world economic slowdown.

In August COSCO posted a smaller first-half net loss of 990 million yuan ($162 million), compared with a net loss of 9.56 billion yuan in 2012 and 10.4 billion yuan in 2011.

To return to profitability, COSCO sold its logistics business, stakes in a container manufacturer and office properties last year.

The company’s former vice president Xu Minjie resigned in November after COSCO said he was “under investigation by the relevant authorities”, phrasing used in China to describe corruption investigations.

Xu is believed to be one of the first big names from China’s shipping industry to be caught up in an anti-corruption campaign by Beijing, which has led to the detention of some senior government officials as well as senior executives in major state firms, including PetroChina Co Ltd .

Shares in COSCO Holdings were up 0.3 percent on Thursday in Shanghai before the announcement. They fallen by about 6.7 percent so far this year, compared with a 4.4 percent drop in the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index. ($1 = 6.0460 Chinese yuan) (Editing by Susan Fenton)