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  July 20th, 2015 | Written by

Neptune Orient Lines is Up For Sale

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  • Temasek estimates that NOL is worth $2.6 billion.
  • 2010 was the last year NOL showed a profit. Last year it lost $260 million.
  • Hapag-Lloyd's recent announcement of an initial public offering may mean the carrier is planning to bid on NOL.

Temasek Holdings is putting its 65 percent stake in Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) on the market.

Temasek, the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, estimates that the Singapore-based NOL is worth $2.6 billion, meaning it intends to collect $1.7 billion from any NOL sale.

NOL, through its operating brand, the container carrier APL, has had its share of financial problems in recent years. Revenue is down from $9.4 billion in 2010 to $8.6 billion in 2014. 2010 was the last year the company showed a profit, at $461 million. Last year it lost $260 million.

In May, NOL Group reported a first quarter 2015 net loss of $11 million, much better tha the $98- million net loss in the same period last year. The group posted a positive first quarter 2015 Core EBIT (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes and Non-Recurring Items) of $30 million, compared to a $65 million loss last year. NOL attributed the positive core EBIT to cost savings of $155 million and lower fuel costs.

At the same time NOL’s revenues declined 13 percent to $2 billion in the quarter. The company attributed the revenue shortfall to freight rate erosion, capacity cuts in unprofitable lanes, and the adverse impact from U.S. West Coast port congestion.

APL, NOL’s container shipping business, reported a positive first quaerter EBIT of $13 million on revenuer of $1.6 billion, compared to a loss of $82 million over the same period last year. First quarter year-on-year volume fell 15 percent, and APL’s average freight rates dipped 8 percent versus the same quarter last year.

Last May, Temasek sold its logistics division APL Logistics to Japanese Kinetsu World Express for $1.2 billion. Oberservers speculated that the NOL and APL Logistics transactions were separated in order to derive greater value for the shareholders.

Temasek reports a net portfolio value at of $194 billion, having more than doubled in the last decade from $75 million.

Industry observers note that Hapag-Lloyd AG and Orient Overseas International are the most likely buyers of NOL. Hapag-Lloyd’s recent announcement of an initial public offering, some say, means the carrier is gearing up to bid on NOL.