Sinotrans Shanghai
Photo: VesselFinder

A reshuffling of the state-owned China Merchants group’s container shipping business will see Antong Holdings, the holding company of Chinese domestic liner operator Quanzhou Ansheng Shipping, become a subsidiary of China Merchants Energy Shipping (CMES).

Antong announced yesterday it would facilitate its acquisition of Sinotrans Container Lines (Sinolines) and China Merchants Ro-Ro Transportation (also known as Guangzhou Ro-Ro) from CMES by issuing shares to the latter.

The acquisition was announced on 29 May, but the takeover method was not disclosed.

Primarily active in the dry bulk, oil tanker and LNG segments, CMES acquired Sinolines from the Sinotrans group in 2021 and owns 70% of Guangzhou Ro-Ro, Chinese carmaker Guangzhou Automobile Corp holding the other 30%.

After the reorganisation of the shareholding, there are plans to list Sinolines and Guangzhou Ro-Ro on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Sinolines owns 29 containerships, for 34,976 teu, and has 14 chartered ships for 18,505 teu. Its total capacity of 53,481 teu makes it the 34th-largest operator. Antong ranks 22nd, owns 38 vessels for 61,578 teu and has 27,196 teu of charted ships.

Alphaliner noted that a combination of Antong and Sinolines would create a potential fleet of around 130,000 teu, propelling Antong into the top 20 global rankings, at number 19,displacing Sinokor Merchant Marine.

Antong went into administration in late 2019 after it was discovered that, between February 2017 and March 2019, Guo Dongze, one of two major shareholding brothers, provided unauthorised guarantees for over $90m for transactions involving the company. This caused 30 lawsuits, seeking around $87m, to be filed against Antong in late 2019.

In October 2020, joint-venture Fujian Zhaohang Logistics Management, comprising state-owned entities including AVIC and China Merchants Group (CMES’s controlling shareholder), signed a restructuring agreement with Antong’s administrators, resulting in it also becoming state-owned.

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