China COSCO eyes turnaround options, stock down sharply

Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:03am EST
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By Alison Leung

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The world's largest bulk shipper, China COSCO Holdings Co Ltd (1919.HK: Quote) (601919.SS: Quote), faces the risk of delisting for its Shanghai shares if it fails to turn around in 2013, after having warned of a second straight year of losses.

China COSCO, which posted a net loss of 10.4 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) for 2011, ranks as the world's sixth largest container ship operator, but has been battling the impact of a supply glut and weak demand that have becalmed the industry.

Other firms to run into turbulence are oil tanker operator Nanjing Tanker Corp 600087.SS, which could face share suspension, and China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd (2628.HK: Quote) (601866.SS: Quote), which has narrowly escaped curbs on share trading.

State-controlled COSCO and the Chinese government are reviewing ways to restructure the company's business and help make it profitable again, analysts said.

"Asset sales seem to be a likely option for COSCO, but it also depends on the market condition and its management's strategy," said Geoffrey Chang, an analyst at BOCOM International.

Nathan Snyder, an analyst at CLSA, said, "We value its fleet at over $6 billion by marking the assets to secondhand prices, so selling and leasing back a portion would give enough gains to cover 2013 losses."

The company's stock fell sharply in Hong Kong on Monday after the shipping conglomerate said last week it expected to record a significant net loss for 2012 and faces the risk of the delisting of its A shares in Shanghai.

COSCO stock lost as much as 7.2 percent to reach HK$3.99 in mid-morning trade, although it recouped some of its losses to stand down 5.4 percent near the close of trade. It underperformed a slight rise in the broad Hang Seng .HSI.   Continued...

A Chinese national flag flies in front of COSCO's headquarters in Beijing August 26, 2010. REUTERS/Barry Huang