Hanjin Shipping supported by $3.3 billion asset sale

Korean Air Lines Co Ltd plans to raise 3.5 trillion won ($3.33 billion) over two years by selling assets such as shares in refiner S-Oil Corp , to pay off debt and support loss-incurring affiliate Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd.

The flag carrier’s debt level rose this year after investing in fuel-efficient aircraft, while South Korea’s largest shipping line has suffered shrinking margins amid a sluggish shipping market as well as substantial foreign exchange loss. Korean Air is the largest shareholder of Hanjin Shipping’s holding company.

The airline will sell 30 million S-Oil shares through one of its units to raise 2.2 trillion won, and sell other assets such as real estate and 13 older aircraft including models like the B747-400 and B777-200, Korean Air said in a statement on Thursday.

The airline is in talks with Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) for the latter to buy the S-Oil shares in the first quarter of 2014, Korean Air Chief Financial Officer Lee Sang-kyoon said at a meeting of investors on Thursday.

Saudi Aramco owns a controlling 35 percent stake in S-Oil. Korean Air owned 28.4 percent as of Sept. 30 through subsidiary Hanjin Energy Co Ltd.

Korean Air plans to use 400 billion won of the proceeds to participate in a rights offering of Hanjin Shipping planned for the first half of 2014. The airline also aims to lower its debt ratio to around 400 percent from over 800 percent.

Hanjin Shipping plans to raise 1.53 trillion won by selling part of its bulk carrier fleet and stakes in port terminals, as well as through the rights offering, CFO Yoon Joo-sik told investors at the meeting.

Hanjin reported a consolidated net loss of 432.8 billion won for July-September, after reporting losses in the first and second quarters as well as annual losses in both 2011 and 2012. It has some 390 billion won of debt maturing next year.

Shares in S-Oil closed down 1.1 percent on Thursday compared with a 1.0 percent rise in the benchmark index. Korean Air closed down 3.2 percent and Hanjin Shipping gained 1.4 percent.

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