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September 10, 2018

Container lessor Seaco set for sale by parent HNA: report

Container lessor Seaco, owned by Chinese conglomerate HNA, is headed for a sale that could fetch as much as $1bn (€864m, £772m), according to a report.

By Lorenzo Migliorato

Container lessor Seaco, owned by Chinese conglomerate HNA, is headed for a sale that could fetch as much as $1bn (€864m, £772m), according to a report.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg News reported that the Chinese group, whose highly-leveraged holdings span from logistics companies to bank stakes and real estate, is looking to divest all assets unrelated to its core aviation business.

In the leasing space, the company sold Amsterdam-based trailer lessor TIP to private equity buyers in May, and later offloaded a $2.2bn stake in its aircraft leasing company Avolon.

Seaco was founded as a joint venture between GE Capital and now-defunct Sea Containers. It leases dry freight, refrigerated and tank container, and also provides container haulage and management services. According to its website, the company operates 176 depots across 49 countries globally.

The company was jointly acquired in 2011 by HNA and private equity firm Bravia Capital. In 2015, HNA acquired rival container lessor Cronos, and subsequently brought its business under Seaco.

According to one of the sources, the sale of Seaco is likely to attract the interest of rivals in the same space. Just two weeks ago, Taylor Minster, another Dutch-based container leasing business, was acquired by Eurotainer, part of the France’s national railway group.

The container leasing sector has been on a recovery trajectory for the last year, after hitting a decade-low in 2016. Shipping consultancy Drewry warned in July on a squeeze on margins, despite rising lease rates.

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