Hanjin Shipping Trading Halted After Plunge to Six-Year Low

  • Creditors decided not to provide fresh loans, Yonhap reports
  • Shipping lines worldwide have posted losses amid slowing trade

Hanjin Shipping Co. shares were suspended from trading after plunging to the lowest price since 2009 following a Yonhap News Agency report that its creditors refused to provide fresh loans in a move that may boost the likelihood of court protection for the company.

The creditors made the decision after meeting Tuesday morning, Yonhap said, citing unidentified creditors and the financial regulator. Hanjin Shipping, South Korea’s largest container line, and Korea Development Bank, its main lender, declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

A refusal may deal a blow to Hanjin Shipping’s revival efforts in an industry grappling with a slump in global trade and the slowest pace of economic growth in China in a quarter century. Shipping lines worldwide have been forced to sell assets, cut jobs and idle some operations to bolster their financials as years of overcapacity eroded freight rates.

Hanjin Shipping last traded 24 percent lower at 1,240 won, headed for the lowest closing price since December 2009, before the shares were halted at 1:30 p.m. in Seoul. The stock has plunged 66 percent this year, compared with a 4 percent gain in the benchmark Kospi index.

Shares of rival Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., which is under the control of creditors in a revamp, jumped 5.5 percent to 7,290 won as of 3:03 p.m. in Seoul and were headed for the biggest gain in two months.

Seventh Largest

Hanjin Shipping is ranked the seventh-biggest shipping line in the world and has a market share of 2.9 percent, according to Alphaliner, a maritime consultant.

Hanjin Shipping has proposed to extend debt maturity and raise about 410 billion won ($367 million) by selling property as well as a stake in its bulk-shipping and other units.

The company had total debt of 6.1 trillion won as of June 30, according to its half-year report. Hanjin Shipping, unprofitable in four of the past five years, has a market value of 304 billion won, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Its cash and equivalents fell to 180.4 billion won at the end of June from 241.1 billion won at the end of December, according to its first-half report.

Debt Maturity

The company said Monday that some foreign banks agreed to extend the maturity of its ship-financing debt, which should help ease its cash-shortage problem. It also reached an agreement with shipowners to adjust charter rates on vessels the liner leased, a condition set by creditors as part of the restructuring plan. 

Hyundai Merchant, South Korea’s second-biggest shipping line, plans to sell convertible bonds to five creditors, including Korea Development and Woori Bank, as part of an earlier announced plan to swap existing debt for shares, it said this month. The convertible bond issue comes after the shipping company completed the sale of 280 million new shares to investors last month as part of the debt-for-equity swap plan.

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