By Sam Chambers
France’s CMA CGM, fresh from gobbling up Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), is being widely tipped to be the suitor to take over Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), the world’s eighth largest liner. Drewry has become the latest consultant to tip the French line to buy OOCL in the latest wave of consolidation. The share price of OOIL, the parent of OOCL, has shot up more than 20% since the start of the year on speculation that it will be bought. With just 575,000 slots to its name, OOCL is perceived to be too small as a global liner amidst the huge mergers shaping the sector at the moment.
Drewry said CMA CGM was the clear favourite to buy OOCL, noting the Marseille line could select any one of the three options including merger, reverse merger or outright purchase of OOIL, but the most likely outcome in its view is a merger, with OOIL shareholders to be given shares in the new combined entity. A number of other sources have also told SplashCMA CGM is in pole to take on the Hong Kong line.
However, when contacted by Splash today an official spokesperson for CMA CGM denied the line was in the market for the Hong Kong company.