Hamburg Süd – Hapag-Lloyd Merger Talks Put on Indefinite Hold

hapag lloyd hamburg sudreuters logoFRANKFURT, May 15 (Reuters) – Hamburg Süd, Germany’s second-largest shipping group, said on Wednesday it did not expect to resume merger talks with rival Hapag-Lloyd any time soon after talks were broken off on the form and details of a combination.

“No agreement has been reached on important points to date,” Hamburg Süd said in a statement, adding it did not expect talks to be restarted in the foreseeable future.

In March, the two companies ended merger talks, but the city of Hamburg, where both shippers are based and which holds a 37 percent stake in Hapag-Lloyd, had called for the negotiations to be resumed.

Separately on Wednesday, tourism group TUI AG, which holds a 22 percent stake in Hapag-Lloyd, said it would have “appreciated” a merger between Hapag-Lloyd and Hamburg Süd, but it now sees an initial public offering of its stake as a more probable option.

With a combined fleet of more than 250 ships, a merged entity would have given the companies much-needed global scale to survive low cargo volumes as Europe battles with economic recession.

Hamburg Süd also said its sales increased by 15 percent last year compared to 2011, while earnings were still “not satisfactory”. The group did not publish a 2012 profit figure.

Hapag-Lloyd also published first-quarter results on Wednesday. It halved its adjusted loss before interest and taxes to 53 million euros ($69 million) but said competition remained challenging and rates had come under more pressure since April. ($1 = 0.7705 euros) (Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Victoria Bryan)

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