Tui Travel’s German parent Tui AG is poised to announce the sale of more than half its remaining stake in container shipping firm Hapag-Lloyd.
However, Tui AG has failed in its wish to sell the entire stake and exit the shipping sector – a move that was expected to see the company take a greater share of Tui Travel, in which it holds a 55.5% stake.
Reports in Germany suggest the Tui Travel parent has agreed to sell 20% of Hapag-Lloyd ¬- just over half the 38.4% stake it holds – to the Hamburg-based Albert Ballin consortium which controls the shipping company following its acquisition from Tui AG in 2009.
A Tui AG spokesman said: “We are in good and advanced talks.” The deal is likely to be announced ahead of the Tui AG annual general meeting on Wednesday.
Tui has been edging towards a deal for months after a previous attempt to sell the shipping arm was scuppered by the financial crisis of 2008.
The company’s stake in Hapag-Lloyd – one of the world’s biggest shipping groups – is all that remains of the former heavy industry and shipping conglomerate Preussag which was turned into a travel group in the 1990s.
The group bought Thomson Travel Group of the UK in 2000 and was renamed Tui AG – with Thomson as Tui UK – in 2002. It subsequently bought First Choice and merged the companies in 2007 to create Tui Travel as a group listed in London.
Tui AG had plans to float Hapag-Lloyd early last year and use the proceeds to buy shares in Tui Travel. However, the listing never happened.
In mid-2009 the group was forced to inject euro215 million into the shipping company to stave off a cash crisis. It ended up taking a stake in a Hamburg container terminal despite wanting to exit shipping.
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