NOL posts $206M net

NOL posts $206M net

Neptune Orient Lines Ltd., which operates the world's seventh biggest container shipping fleet, on- Monday reported a third quarter net profit of US$205.8 million, buoyed by higher freight rates and exceptional gains.

The group also announced a placement of 236 million shares aimed at raising around $300 million.

It was the third straight quarter of growing net profit after a loss of $330 million for all of 2002. Chairman Cheng Wai Keung said 2003 looks much better and that the group was maintaining its positive outlook, expecting to deliver a "very good set of results" for the full year.

NOL lost $28.5 million in the previous corresponding period and made a net profit of $20.3 million and $68.5 million in the first and second quarters of this year respectively.

Commenting on the share placement, NOL chief executive David Lim said that it "will strengthen our balance sheet even further, reducing our debt equity ratio, and giving us the flexibility to be able to move quickly to make the most of opportunities that may arise in the future."

NOL officials said the group aims to continue to reduce debt levels through the disposal of noncore assets, adding that it was looking to divest product tanker company Neptune Associated Shipping Ltd.