Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), the Singapore-based ocean carrier, has revealed that it will make a bid for German shipping group Hapag-Lloyd before the 26 September deadline set by Hapag's parent company TUI AG.
Despite this, NOL chief executive officer Ron Widdows has said he feels there is still a chance TUI will decide to keep hold of Hapag-Lloyd.
"Something dramatic would have to happen that we don't do that," Mr Widdows told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag when asked about beating the 26 September deadline. He added that he had a "gut feeling", however, that TUI would not sell the shipping group.
The only other bidder for Hapag-Lloyd is a consortium of Hamburg investors, led by Kuehne Holding and MM Warburg & Co, with the city of Hamburg owning a 20 per cent stake in the investment group.
TUI has previously said that it would not sell the ocean carrier unless its minimum valuation of the group was matched by a bidder – thought by German analysts to be in the region of €4bn.
"Germany is the most important market for NOL, accounting for a fifth of our European cargo volume," Mr Widdows noted. "Our business will grow in Hamburg – it doesn't matter whether we grow alone or together with Hapag-Lloyd."