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PSA shelves US$4 billion Hutchison Ports stake sale, sources say

Bloomberg • 2 min read
PSA shelves US$4 billion Hutchison Ports stake sale, sources say
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PSA International Pte has shelved plans to sell its minority stake in the ports business of Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison Holdings amid economic headwinds, according to people familiar with the matter.

Temasek Holdings-owned PSA put the stake sale on hold after potential valuations were lower than expected, as shipping activity globally has slowed, the people said. PSA had sought about US$4 billion for its 20% share of CK Hutchison’s ports assets, Bloomberg News reported.

The company would revisit a stake sale once trading in ports rebounds, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. A representative for PSA declined to comment.

Shares of Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, the Singapore-listed business trust affiliated with Hutchison Port Holdings, rose as much as 1% on Thursday.

Chinese state-owned conglomerates China Merchants Group and China Cosco Shipping Corp had been among the firms expressing interest in acquiring the stake, people familiar with the matter have said.

Lower disposable incomes, new ship deliveries and recession headwinds could lead to further softness in the container-shipping industry’s fundamentals in the second half of 2023, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Stephane Kovatchev. Freight rates — a key driver of profitability in the sector — have dropped by about 85% in the past 22 months, he wrote in a note on Tuesday.

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Billionaire Li Ka-shing’s conglomerate CK Hutchison counts businesses spanning ports, retail, infrastructure and telecommunications. Hutchison Port Holdings is one of the world’s biggest port services providers, with a network spanning Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australasia, its website shows.

Based in Singapore, PSA operates more than 60 deep-sea, rail and inland terminals across 42 countries, according to its website. It bought the stake in CK Hutchison’s ports business in 2006 for $4.4 billion.

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