[SINGAPORE] France's CMA CGM SA is nearing a definitive offer to buy Neptune Orient Lines for about S$3.4 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.
CMA CGM plans to offer about S$1.30 a share in cash for the Singapore-based container liner, the people said, asking not to be named ahead of a formal announcement. The offer will be announced as soon as Monday in Singapore, they said. Neptune Orient shares were halted from trading, pending an announcement.
A deal would combine Neptune Orient and the world's third-largest container company to strengthen their positions against market leaders AP Moeller-Maersk A/S and Mediterranean Shipping Co. Liners have idled about five per cent of the global fleet, reduced expenses, sold assets and cut employees in an attempt to stem years of losses as sluggish global growth and an oversupply of vessels eat into shipping rates.
CMA CGM plans to set up its regional headquarters in Singapore, the people said. Spokesmen for CMA CGM and Neptune Orient's controlling shareholder, Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings, declined to comment. A representative for Neptune Orient didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.