SM Line ups stake in HMM to 0.99%
South Korean liner operator SM Line (also known as SM Merchant Marine) has purchased more shares in its compatriot rival HMM, increasing its stake to 0.99%.
On 28 April, SM Line bought 2,629,630 HMM shares for US$56.14 million, bringing its total holdings in HMM to 4,886,578 shares.
SM Line has, however, continued to downplay any speculation that it could be a potential candidate to acquire HMM.
A spokesperson for SM Line told Container News, “It is for an investment purpose as the container shipping market growth seems to be continuing.”
State policy lender Korea Development Bank is HMM’s largest shareholder, with a 20.69% stake as of 31 December 2021. KDB had swapped some debt for equity in HMM in 2016 as part of a rescue plan, but has made known that it will eventually divest its holdings, especially when HMM has achieved record profits in the last two years.
South Korean steelmaker POSCO has floated around as a possible buyer for HMM, but KDB denied any discussions with the former. Any synergies between a major industrial shipper and a shipping company will also meet fierce opposition from South Korea’s shipping industry, which is wary of vertical integration.
When Kim Kyung-bae, formerly CEO of Hyundai Motors’ logistics unit Hyundai Glovis, was chosen to be HMM’s new CEO in March, there was speculation that HMM could be acquired by its former automobile maker affiliate. However, Hyundai Motors and Hyundai Glovis denied any plans to take over HMM.