SM Line strengthens hold over HMM with more shares purchased
Samra Midas (SM) group has consolidated its position as HMM’s third-largest shareholder after its subsidiary SM Line bought more HMM shares to grow the group’s stake in South Korea’s flagship carrier to 6.29%.
On 30 June, SM Line announced that it had purchased 3.77 million shares for KRW100 billion (US$76.6 million), extending an acquisition spree that started last December.
Although SM Line does not intend to revive its Korea Exchange listing, which was pulled last November, a company spokesperson told Container News that it is merely investing in HMM and has no purpose in acquiring the latter. Other SM group companies, such as Korea Shipping Corporation, STX Construction and Woobang Construction, as well as group chairman Woo Oh-hyun, also own HMM shares.
SM group’s main field is the construction sector, but its entry into shipping started with its takeover of Korea Line Corporation in 2013, bringing the dry bulk ship operator out of court protection.
HMM remains under the control of the South Korean government through the state-backed financial institutions Korea Development Bank, Korea Ocean Business Corporation and the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund, which all have a total holding of 45.67% as of 31 March.
The recently appointed Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, Cho Seung-hwan, has stated that he does not think it is time for the state to relinquish its control over HMM, as the current supply chain bottlenecks may have camouflaged the real supply-demand situation.