Cosco Shipping, China’s biggest shipping company, agreed to buy smaller rival Orient Overseas for $6.3 billion, establishing an Asian container giant at the same time that the industry struggles to emerge from a multiyear down cycle. The move would see a half dozen supercarriers, grouped into three alliances, move about three-quarters of all seaborne trade after a wave of consolidation among the world’s top 20 carriers over the past year. The Chinese conglomerate joined Shanghai International Port, one of the world’s biggest port operators, to buy a combined 68.7% stake from Orient Overseas’s controlling shareholder, the companies said Sunday in a joint statement. The offer price of 78.67 Hong Kong dollars (US$10.07) per share is a 31% premium over Orient Overseas’s Friday closing price. According to The Wall Street Journal, the deal will have to be approved by global regulators, which is expected in the next six to eight months.
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