(Adds details from Maersk statement)
SEOUL Dec 11 Heavily indebted South Korean
shipper Hyundai Merchant Marine Co Ltd (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 decided 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.
Maersk said in a statement on Sunday that the cooperation
includes Maersk and MSC "taking over a number of charters and
operations of vessels currently chartered to HMM," but it did
not give specifics.
The new three-year tie-up, called "2M+H Strategic
Cooperation", is a "slot exchange and purchase agreement", under
which surplus capacity can be shared or traded, HMM said.
The agreement needs regulatory approval and will begin in
"For Maersk Line the cooperation will provide new
opportunities, not least in the Transpacific trade where 2M gets
access to strong HMM products," Maersk said.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Yun Hwan Chae; Additional reporting
by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Copenhagen; Writing by Tony
Munroe; Editing by Sam Holmes and Ros Russell)