TUI’s Hapag-Lloyd Exit Stalled as Hamburg Sud Merger Talks Fail

TUI AG (TUI1), Europe’s largest tour operator, may pursue an initial public offering of its stake in Hapag-Lloyd AG after talks to merge the container-shipping business with Hamburg Sud collapsed, analysts said.

Oetker Group, which owns Hamburg Sud, asked for merger talks that began in December to be suspended after the parties were unable to agree terms for a tie-up, Hapag-Lloyd said in a statement yesterday. Hamburg Sud declined to comment today.

“TUI could trigger an IPO,” Jochen Tothenbacher, an analyst at EquinetBank in Frankfurt with a “buy” rating on the travel company, said in a note, while adding that with the container market “still difficult, TUI might wait for a recovery there.”

TUI, which owns 22 percent of Hamburg-based Hapag-Lloyd, Europe’s fourth-largest container line, is seeking an exit as it focuses on the travel industry. The merger discussions with Oetker and Hamburg Sud were considered the most likely route.

TUI Chief Executive Officer Friedrich Joussen, who took over at the Hannover, Germany-based company last month, said on March 13 he planned to proceed with a withdrawal from Hapag- Lloyd after having reviewed the business.

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