NOL and the German group – known as the Hamburg Solution – are the only two bidders left in the running to buy Hapag-Lloyd, operator of the world’s fifth largest container shipping fleet. Tui, the Hannover-based shipping and tourism group, is selling the line after coming under pressure from shareholders to separate the two arms of its business.
Hapag-Lloyd could fetch as much as $6bn and a merged company would operate the world’s third largest container fleet, after those of Denmark’s Maersk Line and Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company.
A German backlash against losing control of Hapag-Lloyd could seriously hamper NOL’s plans.
Mr Widdows – who was partially gagged by a confidentiality agreement – pointed to NOL’s handling of the takeover of California-based APL in 1997 to show how a Hapag-Lloyd deal might be handled. NOL’s ships still trade under the APL brand name after NOL decided APL’s brand was stronger.
P.S: I have worked for NOL/AEL back in 1996.