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China clears path for CMA CGM's merger with NOL

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FRENCH container shipping group CMA CGM expects to announce soon a voluntary general cash offer for its proposed S$3.4 billion acquisition of Singapore-listed Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) after receiving the regulatory clearance from the Chinese government for the takeover bid.

FRENCH container shipping group CMA CGM expects to announce soon a voluntary general cash offer for its proposed S$3.4 billion acquisition of Singapore-listed Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) after receiving the regulatory clearance from the Chinese government for the takeover bid.

CMA CGM said its proposed acquisition of NOL has been cleared by the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom). With regulatory approvals now received from Mofcom and the European Commission (EC), the announcement of the proposed voluntary general cash offer for NOL is expected latest by June 2, 2016, before 7am, the French shipping line said in a statement.

The Mofcom clearance comes just under a month after the takeover bid was granted conditional approval from the EC.

The EC approval was granted on the condition that NOL exits from the G6 Alliance, which CMA CGM and NOL have committed to comply with.

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CMA CGM unveiled in April the formation of the Ocean Alliance with Cosco China Shipping, Evergreen Line and Orient Overseas Container Line. The alliance will also include NOL's APL brand when CMA CGM completes the acquisition of the Singapore-listed shipping entity.

CMA CGM had unveiled on Dec 7 a pre-conditional voluntary general offer for all shares in NOL at S$1.30 apiece, valuing the group at S$3.4 billion.

Pre-conditions include antitrust clearances in the United States, the European Union and China. CMA CGM expects to follow up with a formal offer to NOL's shareholders towards mid-2016, once the pre-conditions are met.

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