© Philippilosian |yang ming_53779592
© Philippilosian

The Taiwanese government has sold shares in Yang Ming this year, after the liner operator achieved profits amid a historically firm market.

In June last year, the government, via the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC), National Development Fund (NDF) and Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC), held a 47.62% stake and sold 29% of that in the first half of this year.

Yang Ming’s interim report shows that at 30 June, the government’s stake was now 33.6%, held by MOTC (14.04%) NDF (13.81%) and TIPC (5.75%).

As the container liner industry heads towards record $100bn net profit in 2021, the stock prices of listed liner operators have increased in tandem, with Yang Ming shares at TW$182.50 (US$6.54) on 30 June, a near 30-fold jump from TW$6.50 ($0.22) a year earlier. By today, they had fallen back, to TW$88.

The government’s decreased stake in Yang Ming brings its holding below the threshold of 34%, the proportion the state usually maintains in listed companies deemed strategic to the country.

Prior to 2017, the MoTC was the government’s only stakeholder in Yang Ming, holding 33%. However, after the carrier suffered a string of consecutive losses that eroded its equity, the state recapitalised the company by getting the NDF and TIPC to purchase additional shares issued by the liner operator, upping the government stake in Yang Ming to around 45%.

In early 2020, with concerns that global container volumes could fall by as much as 30% with the onset of Covid-19, the government launched a $1bn aid package for Yang Ming and compatriot liner Evergreen. It also increased its stake in Yang Ming to 47.6%.

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