Price tag could hinder Hamburg Sud sale

Any potential buyer of world’s seventh-largest boxship player will need deep pockets, says Alphaliner.

A price tag of close to $5bn could deter potential buyers of the German container line Hamburg Sud, says Alphaliner.

The Oetker family, which controls 100% of Hamburg Sud, is expected to make a decision over the German North-South trade specialist this week.

Alphaliner says the sale is said to be attracting interest among top-tier ocean carriers, but the high asking price “remains the largest stumbling block” to a potential deal.

“The Oetker family had previously been unable to reach a consensus on whether to sell the company or not,” says the Paris-based consultancy.

“However, the increasingly difficult north-south trade conditions and the disappearance of similar mid-sized carriers may have prompted the family members to reconsider their position.”

It adds that a stand-alone Hamburg Sud risks being left behind by the wave of consolidation among competing carriers, as well as by the formation of new east-west alliances in which the German carrier will not participate.

Alphaliner says the total value of ships and container assets on the Oetker Group’s books is listed at $2.2bn as at the end of 2015. VesselsValue puts the worth of its fleet at around $1.4bn.

“The carrier has little debt and any potential buyer will have to fork out cash to acquire Hamburg Sud, as there would be little appetite for a non-cash/share offer for the highly independent Oetker Group.”

Earlier this week, Maersk Line said it was not commenting on market rumours linking it to a potential acquisition of Hamburg Sud.

The process to sell the world’s seventh-largest boxship player could start before the end of the year if the move is confirmed.