MARSEILLE: November 22, 2015. CMA CGM has confirmed it is in "exclusive discussions" with Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) about a possible merger.
The company says it has until December 07 to negotiate with Lentor Investments, a subsidiary of NOL owner Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings. Earlier this month the Maersk Group had also expressed interest in NOL.
In a statement, CMA CGM said: "Should these discussions lead to an agreement, such a combination would contribute to the consolidation of the container shipping industry, at a time when scale is more critical than ever.
"It would further reinforce CMA CGM as a global force in container shipping, leveraging the strong geographic and operational complementarity of both groups.
"No agreement has yet been reached and no assurance can be given that these discussions will lead to a definitive agreement."
At the end of last month NOL reported a 41 percent drop in revenue for Q3 to US$1.2 billion and a 26 percent fall in revenue for the first nine months to US$4.7 billion. The net loss increased to US$96 million from a loss of US$23 million in 3Q 2014. The group posted a third quarter 2015 EBIT loss of US$66 million - an increase from US$21 million in the same quarter last year.
"The absence of the traditional third quarter peak season in Europe and North America led to severe freight rates erosion in major trade lanes. We continued to make good progress in managing costs. Unfortunately, this was more than offset by weak global demand and huge contraction in freight rates," said NOL Group president and CEO Ng Yat Chung. "NOL will continue to drive cost excellence and yield optimisation. The group's balance sheet has strengthened and we will invest when the conditions are right."