CMA CGM is continuing to study the option of listing shares but any move would not be this year, the French group’s chief financial officer said.
The family-owned group had said in late 2012 that it planned to list shares by the end of 2014 in an attempt to improve its access to financing in the face of volatile freight prices.
CMA CGM has since been through a financial restructuring that saw French sovereign fund FSI inject $150 million and the group sell a stake in a port terminal operator for 400 million euros ($550 million), helping it secure better credit ratings and reduce debt.
“You shouldn’t expect much news on that this year. There won’t be a share listing in 2014,” Michel Sirat told Reuters in a telephone interview after the release of CMA CGM’s 2013 results.
“In any case, there is no urgency in having a new, different access to equity markets, but it remains a matter being studied because it is a legitimate subject for a group of our size.”
CMA CGM’s issuing of a 300 million euro bond last year and renewed interested from banks in the shipping sector, had boosted the French company’s sources of financing, he said.
CMA CGM, based in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille, is controlled by founder Jacques Saade and his family.
The FSI and Turkish group Yildirim are both minority shareholders in CMA CGM through convertible bonds they hold, giving the FSI the equivalent of 6 percent of shares and Yildirim 24 percent.
CMA CGM reported stable full-year revenue at $15.9 billion, as a 7.5 percent rise in its volumes was offset by a 7.1 percent drop in its average freight rates.
Core operating profit fell 26.9 percent to $756 million but group net profit rose 22.8 percent to $408 million, boosted by the sale of 49 percent of Terminal Link.
CMA CGM expects market conditions in 2014 to be similar to last year’s, Sirat said, without giving any company forecasts.
The container shipping sector continues to face overcapacity, a legacy of a ship order boom that preceded a global financial crisis in 2008.
Reporting annual results at the end of February, A.P. Moller-Maersk, owner of the world’s largest container shipping firm Maersk Line, said it expected overcapacity to persist until at least 2016.
Like its larger rival, CMA CGM is aiming to cut costs through a vessel-sharing alliance and the development of larger ships with greater fuel efficiency.
The so-called P3 alliance will see Maersk Line, CMA CGM and No. 2 container shipping group Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) pool vessels on certain routes.
CMA CGM is hoping for a mid-2014 launch, Sirat said in an earlier results call, echoing comments made by Maersk earlier this month. (Reuters)