Pan Ocean on the Auction Block

STX Pan Ocean Vanguard
Pan Ocean’s Ocean Vanguard, file photo. Image credit: Pan Ocean

reuters_logo1SEOUL, Oct 1 (Reuters) – South Korea’s largest bulk shipper Pan Ocean Co Ltd has been put up for auction, according to a sales notice on Wednesday, becoming the latest asset to be sold by a mid-tier conglomerate which collapsed after an ill-fated expansion drive.

The shipper is likely to sell for around 600 billion to 700 billion won ($570 million to $660 million), the Korea Economic Daily reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed people in the investment banking industry.

Pan Ocean, formerly STX Pan Ocean, was spun off from now-defunct shipbuilding conglomerate STX Group and entered court receivership in June last year.

STX Group is among a handful of conglomerates including Woongjin Group and Tong Yang Group that have been forced to sell assets and seek refuge from creditors after expansion moves turned sour in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Other indebted family-run conglomerates such as Hyundai Group, Hanjin Group and Dongbu Group have been preemptively selling assets to improve balance sheets .

Pan Ocean reported operating profit of 115.3 billion won during the first half of this year, from a 93.8 billion won loss in the same period of 2013.

Potential bidders for the shipper will conduct due diligence during Nov 10-28, with binding bids due on Dec 11, the sales notice showed.

(1 US dollar = 1,058.3000 Korean won) (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Tony Munroe and Christopher Cushing)

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