“Zombie Apocalypse”: The Hanjin Bailout that Didn’t Happen
- “Zombie Apocalypse”: The Hanjin Bailout that Didn’t Happen
by Wolf Richter, http://wolfstreet.com/
“Shatters the complacency” that TBTF carriers “are immune to failure”
South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co., the world’s seventh largest container carrier and a unit of Hanjin Group, Korea’s 10th-largest conglomerate that also controls Korean Air Lines, has been in financial trouble for a long time. Bankruptcy or rather a government bailout, not only for Hanjin, but also of the second largest Korean carrier, Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), has been bandied about for as long.
HMM was restructured, with creditors taking a big hit, including its main creditor, the state-owned Korean Development Bank which in the process became HMM’s largest shareholder, which boils down to a taxpayer bailout. Pending regulatory approval, the restructured HMM will join 2M carriers Maersk Line and MSC in a new alliance next April.
But Hanjin’s debt restructuring and bailout efforts collapsed – to the great surprise of the industry, which, having seen the bailouts and other maneuvers of 2009, figured that the major container carriers were too big to fail due to their role in the global economy and that they’d always get bailed out.
On Wednesday, Hanjin filed for rehabilitation in Seoul (similar to a US chapter 11 bankruptcy) after its creditors – the largest being the Korea Development Bank – which had tried to keep the carrier afloat for years, threw in the towel and cut off a financial lifeline.
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