Heavily indebted South Korean shipping company Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) said on Sunday it has agreed with the 2M shipping alliance to form a cooperative relationship that falls short of full-fledged membership.
Joining an alliance with major shipping firms was one of the conditions of a debt restructuring deal between Hyundai Merchant Marine and its creditors in May, and the company said on Sunday that the tie-up with 2M met that criteria.
Its main creditor, the state-backed Korea Development Bank, said it had not yet met to decide its position on the agreement but it was looking at it "in a positive light".
HMM had previously been in talks to join the 2M vessel-sharing alliance made up of Denmark's Maersk Line, part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, and Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC), the world's two largest shipping lines.
However, Maersk said on Friday the South Korean shipping firm was no longer being considered to become an operating partner in the alliance.
The new tie-up, called 2M+H Strategic Cooperation, is a "slot exchange and purchase agreement" under which surplus capacity can be shared or traded, Hyundai Merchant Marine said.
“We are pleased to enter into this strategic cooperation with Hyundai Merchant Marine, Korea’s leading container carrier. It will enable us to enhance our 2M network and presence in the important Transpacific trade. We look forward to leveraging these new opportunities to the benefit of our customers,” says Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer, Maersk Line.
The agreement is scheduled to begin in April 2017 subject to regulatory approval. The initial term of the cooperation is three years with option to extend and covers key East-West trades.
Hyundai Merchant Marine said on Monday creditors had agreed to provide fresh funds of about 300 billion won ($255 million) in December for its asset acquisition plans.
Hyundai Merchant Marine is the preferred bidder to buy a port terminal in Algeciras, Spain, partly owned by Hanjin Shipping and is in a consortium with MSC to acquire Hanjin's Long Beach Terminal in the U.S.
Hyundai Merchant Marine also said that it is targeting an operating margin of five percent and a five percent share of the global shipping market by 2021.