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  December 22nd, 2015 | Written by

Temasek’s Sale of NOL at Below Book Value Has Implications for Other Potential Sellers

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  • NOL’s failure to obtain premium in APL sale sets precedent for others seeking to exit container shipping market.
  • CMA CGM’s offer to acquire NOL was 0.96 times the book value of the company’s shareholders’ equity.
  • Alphaliner: Value of carrier’s assets to be discounted 20 to 40 percent due to reduction in values in the last few years

The failure of Neptune Orient Lines, the parent company of the ocean carrier APL, to obtain a premium over book value in the sale of the ship line CMA CGM, will still have significant implications for the ocean shipping industry.

So says a report from Alphaliner, the shipping information company, and that will especially be the case for other potential sellers seeking to make an exit from the container shipping market.

The French shipping line CMA CGM announced a cash offer to acquire NOL for $0.92 per share, subject to approval of regulatory authorities. Although the offer price was higher than NOL’s last-traded price of $0.86 per share, the deal values NOL’s shares at $2.41 billion, or 0.96 times the book value of the company’s shareholders’ equity of $2.52 billion at the end of September 2015.

Temasek Holdings, the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, owns 66.8 percent of NOL’s shares. Temasek’s undertaking to sell its shares to CMA CGM which will trigger a mandatory general offer for the rest of NOL’s shares owned by minority shareholders.

“The discount to NOL’s book value reflects the impairment of the company’s asset values, compared to historical acquisition costs,” says the Alphaliner report. “The value of the carrier’s containerships and container boxes will need to be discounted by between 20 to 40 percent due to the reduction in asset values in the last few years.”

APL’s attraction lies in the carrier’s significant market presence in the transpacific and Far East-to-Middle East trades, noted Alphaliner, as well as its interests in nine container ports in the United States, Europe, and Asia, all of which are complementary to CMA CGM’s network.

Yet, concluded Alphaliner, “these were still insufficient to lift NOL’s valuation, despite protracted discussions between both parties that have lasted for a year.”