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Hanjin Shipping seeks debt revamp as cash dwindles amid slowdown

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Hanjin Shipping Co, South Korea's biggest container carrier that's part of the Hanjin Group, said it will work with lenders to restructure debt after years of weak demand resulted in losses and cash erosion.

[SEOUL] Hanjin Shipping Co, South Korea's biggest container carrier that's part of the Hanjin Group, said it will work with lenders to restructure debt after years of weak demand resulted in losses and cash erosion.

The shipping company will submit an application to its creditors on Monday and will disclose details of the revamp plan once they are firmed up, it said in a regulatory filing Friday.

Hanjin Shipping is the latest among the nation's liners recasting their debt after Finance Minister Yoo Il Ho said the industry needs to be overhauled following years of weak demand eroded cash at companies.

Operators worldwide have been slashing their workforce and considering consolidation to stem losses as slowing global trade and overcapacity squeeze transportation rates.

Shares of Hanjin Shipping fell a third day before the announcement, plunging 7.3 per cent to close at 2,605 won in Seoul Friday, the lowest price since they started trading in December 2009. The stock has tumbled 28 per cent this year, compared with a 2.8 per cent gain in the benchmark Kospi index.

Creditors to smaller rival Hyundai Merchant Marine Co in March agreed to extend the maturity of its debt for three months as it negotiates with bondholders and shipowners to join the banks' restructuring efforts.

Hanjin Shipping has been unprofitable for the last five years. The company's cash on hand fell 56 per cent from a year earlier to 241 billion won (S$284.6 million) at the end of 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company said it has 389 billion won in bonds maturing this year. Of the 238 billion won of securities due in June, it plans to roll over 48 billion won. Bank borrowings at the end of last year were at 5.6 trillion won.

Hanjin Group, whose units include Hanjin Shipping and Korean Air Lines Co, said in 2013 that it plans to raise 3.5 trillion won by selling shares and other assets as part of its efforts to reduce debt. Under the plan, Hanjin Shipping sold its bulk-shipping and some terminal operations.

BLOOMBERG