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Singamas plans to sell over half its box building capacity

Container manufacturer Singamas has announced a deal to sell five subsidiary companies, including its largest container manufacturing facility.

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Singamas has announced it has entered into a “framework agreement with a potential purchaser for five of its wholly owned subsidiary companies: Qidong Singamas Energy Equipment Co., Ltd, Qidong Pacific Port Co., Ltd, Qingdao Pacific Container Co., Ltd, Ningbo Pacific Container Co., Ltd, and Singamas Container Holdings (Shanghai) Limited.

 

The identity of the potential buyer has not been disclosed, but the deal is for cash and is expected to be worth between RMB 3.5 billion and RMB 4.0 billion (approximately U$520m to $600M).

 

Singamas operates a long list of wholly owned subsidiaries and joint venture companies, some of which have very similar names, and there are some inaccurate reports on what exactly is included in the deal on the internet. In particular reports that Singamas is selling five of its nine manufacturing plants, including its tank container manufacturing facility are inaccurate.

 

The Framework Agreement covers three manufacturing plants:

  • Qidong Singamas Energy Equipment Co., Ltd - a newer plant (built in 2012) with a capacity of 270,00 TEU of dry freight containers and 60,000 TEU of reefers and the largest production facility owned by Singamas.
  • Qingdao Pacific Container Co., Ltd. - a dry box and and special container plant in Qingdao (including its US 53ft box production) with a capacity of 120,000 TEU.
  • Ningbo Pacific Container Co., Ltd. - one of Singamas’ older plants, in operation since 2006 with a capacity of 110,000 TEU.

The fourth company is Qidong Pacific Port Co., Ltd. - a depot and port facility specially designed to serve the Qidong plant, with a storage capacity of 41,070 TEU, two low capacity (for empty containers) STS cranes, a portable crane and several empty container handlers. The fifth subsidiary is Singamas Container Holdings (Shanghai) Limited, which Singamas describes as a technical and R&D centre in Shanghai.

 

Taken together, the three manufacturing plants represent 560,000 TEU of Singamas’s approximately 900,000 TEU of total container manufacturing capacity per annum (based on factories operating one extended shift per day). The 900,000 TEU figure includes an estimate for the company’s new reefer facility in Qingdao.

 

Singamas said the deal is part of a plan to shift the company’s focus from standard box manufacturing to logistics services and special containers, where it believes it has competitive advantages. The deal, if it proceeds, will also provide a welcome cash injection for PIL, which owns a 41.2% stake in Singamas. In July 2017 PIL put up its shareholding as security on a banking facility. As part of that agreement PIL was required to enter into an MoU within 20 months to sell its stake in Singamas for not less than US$180M or refinance the loan.

 

In September last year there were rumours COSCO was in talks to purchase PIL’s stake in Singamas. The two companies are very familiar with each other, and PIL Managing Director Mr Teo Siong Seng sits on the Board of Cosco Shipping Holdings Co Ltd.

 

Whoever emerges as the buyer will be entering a tough market. The reefer market at the moment is relatively strong, but dry box manufacturing suffers from persistent overcapacity and low (or non existent) margins. That overcapacity was one of the main reasons Maersk Container Industry exited the market late at the start of this year to focus on the reefer business.

 

Singamas now wants to specialise as well. It said special containers are a niche where it has “achieved growth in both volume and price”, and has an advantage with its logistics side of the business. Special containers accounted for 10% of Singamas’s manufacturing out put in 1H 2018 and 17% of its sales revenue. “Regardless of whether the Potential Disposal will proceed as contemplated or at all, the Company plans to continue expanding the Group’s presence in the specialised container industry by actively boosting operational efficiency and overall returns,” Singamas concluded.

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