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Singapore's NOL Says Shortlisted in Bid for Hapag-Lloyd

Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines said on Friday it has been invited to the next phase of bidding for Germany's Hapag-Lloyd, in a move that could create the world's third largest container shipping firm.

"If successful, NOL would integrate its APL container shipping business with Hapag-Lloyd," NOL said in a statement.

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Katsumi Kasahara

Reuters reported on Thursday that NOL and a group of Hamburg investors are the only bidders left in the race to buy Hapag-Lloyd, a unit of Germany's TUI.

Ron Widdows, who became NOL CEO last month, told Reuters in an interview that the Singapore firm had taken a bigger risk when it purchased APL in 1997, as the U.S. container shipping firm was much larger than NOL at that time.

"It's an opportunity and it could well be transformational. You would not do this unless you are absolutely certain the risk profile was wise," he said of NOL's bid for Hapag-Lloyd.

Widdows declined to provide more details of NOL's bid, saying they were confidential, but said there was a lot of speculation about the purported price tag of 5 billion euros, which was more than double the Singapore company's market capitalisation.

Reports have repeatedly said that TUI is considering calling off the planned sale because of the low value of the bids received.

NOL submitted an indicative non-binding bid to acquire Hapag-Lloyd to TUI last month.