Maersk Sells Remaining Share Holding in Hoegh Autoliners

Danish shipping giant Maersk has announced that it has sold its remaining 10.48% stake in Norwegian ro-ro operator Hoegh Autoliners.

Maersk sold about 20 million shares, equivalent to about 10.48 % of Hoegh Autoliners, at a price of NOK 90 per share, for a total of NOK 1.8 billion (about USD 169 million). The transaction marks Maersk’s formal withdrawal from its position as the second largest shareholder of Hoegh Autoliners. And Maersk no longer holds a stake in the company.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time Maersk sold shares of Hoegh Autoliners. In March this year, Maersk sold about 13.5 million shares in Hoegh Autoliners at a price of NOK 61 per share, totaling nearly $80 million. In September, Maersk sold about 16.9 million shares at NOK 73 per share. This corresponds to a stake of about 8.86% in Hoegh Autoliners, totaling NOK 1.23 billion (about $115 million). At that time, Maersk was still the second largest shareholder of Hoegh Autoliners.

Hoegh Autoliners is listed in Oslo in 2021. The company’s largest shareholder is the Norwegian company Leif Höegh & Co, with a stake of more than 50%. Maersk became a shareholder in 2008 through the acquisition of 12 car carriers from Hoegh Autoliners. Currently, the company operates a fleet of about 40 owned and long-term chartered vessels with capacities ranging from 2,300 to 8,500 CEU.

In 2022, Hoegh Autoliners signed a contract with China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu) Co. Ltd.(CMHI) for the construction of 4+4+4 dual-fuel and zero-carbon ready Aurora car carriers. All alternative orders are now in force and all 12 new vessels will be built by CMHI. The first ship is scheduled for delivery in July 2024.

According to Maersk’s third quarter 2023 earnings report released on November 3, the data shows that Maersk’s performance was in line with expectations. However, the current market environment is becoming increasingly difficult, with freight rates far below the peak reached in 2022 and continued pressure from increased ocean freight capacity. Quarterly revenue for the third quarter of 2023 was $12.1 billion, impacted by lower freight rates and lower cargo volumes. This compares to $22.8 billion and an EBITDA margin of 4.4% in the same period last year.

Maersk maintained its expectations for the full-year results, but expects them to be close to the lower end of the range of previous estimates. In response to the ongoing challenges of falling freight rates and low demand in the container shipping industry, Maersk also revealed that it will lay off 10,000 employees, a move that reduces Maersk’s overall headcount to below 100,000 employees.

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