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Hanjin's revival tough if unloading isn't expedited: South Korean court

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 15:24
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The South Korean court overseeing the receivership application of Hanjin Shipping Co said the stranded vessels of the troubled container line are taking too long to unload cargo, and a delay will make it impossible to revive the company.

[SEOUL] The South Korean court overseeing the receivership application of Hanjin Shipping Co said the stranded vessels of the troubled container line are taking too long to unload cargo, and a delay will make it impossible to revive the company.

Hanjin needs to quickly end the supply chain disruptions and the longer it takes to return the chartered ships means more claims and debt will pile up, a court spokesman said, declining to be identified, citing policy.

The judge met with representatives of Korea Development Bank, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the nation's Port Authority and also those of the company on Monday, the spokesman said by phone Wednesday.

Shares of Hanjin Shipping tumbled as much as 23 per cent to a record low Wednesday amid fading chances of survival and after Yonhap News Agency, citing the court, reported a rehabilitation plan was "realistically impossible."

Hanjin's collapse has caused "widespread disruptions in freight shipments worldwide," US trade groups said in a letter Tuesday, urging the Commerce Department to work with the South Korean government and end the crisis.

"Something needs to be done quickly," said Park Moo Hyun, an analyst at Hana Financial Investment Co in Seoul.

"Investors appear to take this to mean that the court also thinks the chances of Hanjin Shipping's survival are growing dimmer."

Returning Vessels Shares of Hanjin Shipping plunged 21 per cent to 895 won in Seoul, extending their decline for a third day. The stock has slid 75 per cent this year, compared with a 3.8 per cent gain in the benchmark Kospi index.

The court has advised Hanjin to return all chartered vessels to cut costs as the fees amounted to about US$2 million a day.

The company has already started reducing its fleet by returning some box and bulk carriers to their owners. A spokesman for Hanjin declined to comment on the court meeting.

Under the law, the court's job now is to help find a way for Hanjin's revival, and liquidation is an option that may be considered later when the court finds the company can no longer operate, the spokesman said.

Of the Seoul-based liner's 97 container ships, 60 were chartered, while among its 44 bulk ships, 23 were leased as of Sept 11.

Korean Air Lines Co, the biggest shareholder of Hanjin, is still trying to find ways to inject cash after earlier pledging about 60 billion won (S$73.58 million) as part of the holding group's efforts to help ease the global disruption.

Delta Air Lines Inc, which expanded its code-share partnership this month with the Korean carrier, may consider transforming this alliance into a joint venture, the US carrier's chief executive officer Ed Bastian said at an event in Atlanta late Tuesday.

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