German tourism company TUI is reportedly close to selling another slice of its remaining 38.4 percent stake in Hapag-Lloyd to the Albert Ballin consortium, the Hamburg-based ocean container carrier’s majority shareholder.
While a deal is imminent the two sides have yet to agree on the number of shares that will change hands, according to German press reports.
Die Welt, a German daily newspaper, reported on Saturday that the Ballin consortium, which already holds 61.6 percent of Hapag-Lloyd, is negotiating to buy a further 33 percent of the world’s fifth largest carrier.
“The process isn’t completed yet, but the dice have fallen,” the paper quoted Klaus-Michael Kuehne, a logistics billionaire who owns around 25 percent of Hapag-Lloyd via the Ballin consortium.
Other reports say TUI will sell only a 20 percent stake because the Ballin consortium doesn’t have funds available to meet the $1.5 billion asking price for a 33 percent holding.
TUI agreed a $5.8 billion sale to the Ballin consortium in 2008 but was forced to retain a larger minority stake than planned due to the global financial crisis. It sold a further 11.33 percent to the consortium in 2011, as part of its plan to exit container shipping to focus on its core tourism business.
TUI exercised its right to sell a further tranche by Jan. 2 but has pushed back the deadline to give negotiators more time to reach agreement.
If the two sides can’t reach agreement, TUI has the right to sell its entire 38.4 percent holding to third party investors. The Ballin consortium must then sell the same number of shares to the investor at the same price, giving the buyer control of Hapag-Lloyd.
Singapore’s NOL, the owner of ocean carrier APL, which pulled an offer for Hapag-Lloyd in 2008, is seen as likely bidder. But TUI is under intense pressure to ensure that the carrier remains under German ownership.
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