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Seoul court considers selling Hanjin's Asia-US business

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The Seoul Central District Court overseeing the receivership filing of Hanjin Shipping Co is considering a disposal of the sales-and-marketing network of the container line's Asia-US operations as part of efforts to raise funds at the indebted company.

[SINGAPORE] The Seoul Central District Court overseeing the receivership filing of Hanjin Shipping Co is considering a disposal of the sales-and-marketing network of the container line's Asia-US operations as part of efforts to raise funds at the indebted company.

The plan was set in motion after a detailed evaluation of the company under bankruptcy protection indicated its assets could be more valuable if sold in parts, a court spokesman said by phone Tuesday.

A sale would include employees and customers of Hanjin subsidiaries involved in handling Asia-US cargo as well as some vessels, he said. The court intends to make a decision as soon as possible, he said.

The effort to sell the company in parts comes after the court indicated last month that it would consider selling the entire container line, which sought bankruptcy protection in August.

Hanjin, South Korea's biggest container line, fell victim to a global slump in trade that has depressed freight rates and led to losses, consolidation and job cuts among other shipping companies. The Seoul-based company sought protection after creditors halted all financial support, causing its ships to be stranded at sea and disrupting the global supply chain ahead of the year-end holiday season.

The Seoul court, which established a committee to evaluate Hanjin, hasn't determined what to do with Hanjin's other operations including those moving goods between Asia and Europe, the spokesman said. Hanjin is required to submit its own proposal for revival by Dec 23.

Yesterday, the judge met with the evaluating officials, who are also helping the court to review a possible sale of Hanjin's operations, the spokesman said. The court has yet to decide on the number of vessels or how many workers could be affected by a sale of the US-Asia operations, he said.

Hanjin Shipping had 1,428 employees as of June 30, according to its half-year financial report.

Hanjin rose 1 per cent to 1,035 won as of 12:21pm in Seoul trading, after climbing as much as 3.9 per cent. The stock has plunged 72 per cent this year, cutting its market value to about 253 billion won (S$310.7 million).

Its market share has also shrunk as customers defected, dropping to 1.3 per cent as of Oct 11 and making Hanjin the 17th biggest container line, according to shipping data provider Alphaliner.

Before the company's filing, it was in seventh place and controlled 2.9 per cent of the market.

BLOOMBERG