HMM makes $233m bid to buy back Hyundai LNG Shipping

HMM, South Korea’s flagship carrier, has made a bid to reenter the gas trades, tabling KWX300bn ($233m) to take over its old company, Hyundai LNG Shipping.

HMM has been keen to diversify its earnings base and with the local private equity owners of Hyundai LNG Shipping putting the company for sale, the cash-rich liner has made its move.

Hyundai LNG Shipping, which was sold by HMM nine years ago as it hit troubled times financially, today has a fleet of 16 LNG carriers and six VLGCs.

Best known for its container exposure, HMM is involved in other trades. Its fleet today stands at 72 box ships, 15 tankers, 13 bulk carriers and four multi-purpose ships. In April, it decided to reenter another business that it had cashed out during previous hard times, ordering three car carriers to be built at Guangzhou Shipyard International in China.

The private equity owners of Hyundai LNG Shipping have yet to make a decision on HMM’s bid.

HMM has been under state control for the past 10 years, with its creditors now starting a privatisation process, one of several sizeable shipowner changes in the works from the East Asian nation.

Hahn & Company, the biggest private equity player in Korean shipping, is seeking a buyer for both the tanker division of SK Shipping as well as H-Line Shipping, one of the country’s largest shipowning entities.

Likewise, two local private equity backers of dry bulk concern Polaris Shipping are also testing the market, having employed Lazard Asset Management to investigate a possible sale.