South Korean container shipping firm HMM will remain in state control after negotiations with Harim Group failed to solidify a deal. 

Harim, which is best known for its poultry business, was selected as the preferred bidder for the state-owned stake in the shipping firm in December 2023. The Harim bid came with private equity backing from JKL Partners. 

The majority position in HMM is held via the Korea Development Bank (KDB) and the Korean Ocean Business Corporation (KOBC). 

Despite talks between the four firms in late December, later extended in January, no agreement on the sale was reached. 

KDB said: “Though KDB and KOBC were in talks with the preferred bidder under mutual trust over the past seven weeks, we were not able to reach an agreement over different views on some details.”

More detail came from Harim, which explained the issues around full control of HMM led to the breakdown of the $4.9bn acquisition. 

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“No private company can easily accept a deal that only makes it the major shareholder without guaranteeing actual management rights,” the firm stated. 

Instead, Harim said it would concentrate its efforts to “strengthen the competitiveness of Korea’s shipping” through its existing interest in dry bulk line Pan Ocean.