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Update: Hot stock: NOL shares jump on exclusive sale talks

The headquarters of Neptune Orient Lines Ltd. (NOL) stand in Singapore, on Friday, Mar 19, 2010.

SHARES in Neptune Orient Lines jumped in early trading on Monday, after it announced over the weekend that its controlling shareholder had entered into exclusive sale talks with France's CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container shipping firm.

NOL was trading up 4.0 Singapore cents, at S$1.16 as at 9.46am, and was the third most heavily traded stock on the exchange.

If successful, the deal would be one of the top M&A deals involving a Singapore entity and among the biggest tie-ups between container shipping lines in recent years. The Singapore Exchange-listed Singapore company has a current market capitalisation of about S$3 billion.

The agreement, announced by NOL on Saturday, means AP Moeller-Maersk, the world's biggest container group, is out of the race. NOL had earlier said it was in talks with both AP and CMA CGM - the world's third-biggest container shipper by capacity - on a possible acquisition of its liner business. The exclusivity deal for CMA is valid till Dec 7.