Neptune Orient Lines is back in talks with Hapag-Lloyd about a possible purchase of the German container ship operator, according to a published report in Germany.
Singapore-based NOL broke off acquisition talks in 2008 after failing to agree on a price for Hapag-Lloyd, which is owned by a consortium of Hamburg-based investors and tourism group TUI.
TUI plans to sell its remaining 38.4 percent stake in the German container line by January so it can to focus solely on its tourism business.
The German newspaper Die Welt, in a report Saturday that did not identify sources, said NOL was in contact with TUI management, with more talks planned for January, and a concrete offer is expected early next year.
A TUI spokesman confirmed its intention to divest its stake in Hapag-Lloyd but said he would not comment on market rumors.
The Hamburg investors have a right of first refusal to buy TUI's stake, the paper said.
If no such deal emerged by Sept. 30, 2012, TUI could sell its stake to a third party along with enough shares from the Hamburg investors to give the outsider a majority stake.