South Korean buyout firm Hahn & Co. is reviewing strategic options for its majority stake in SK Shipping Co., including a sale that could value the company at about $10bn including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Hahn & Co. is working with financial advisers as it weighs a potential partial or full sale of its stake, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Other options include selling individual divisions of the Seoul-based shipping company, the people said. Hahn & Co. had earlier this year evaluated the sale of SK Shipping’s tanker business, they added.

The buyout firm is seeking an equity value of more than $2bn for SK Shipping in a deal, according to the people. The asset has drawn preliminary interest from investors including infrastructure-focused funds, the people said.

Considerations are at an early stage and Hahn & Co. could still decide against pursuing a deal, they said. Representatives for Hahn & Co. and SK Shipping declined to comment.

SK Shipping, established in 1982, operates maritime transportation services for areas such as crude oil, liquefied natural gas and cargo, according to its website. Its sales were $1.8bn last year, while assets stood at $5.5bn.

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Hahn & Co. in 2018 acquired a 79% stake in SK Shipping through a debt-repayment to help the wet bulk shipping firm survive the slump in the global industry. The buyout firm said at the time it would inject $1.4bn of equity capital and take on $2.3bn of SK Shipping’s debt, valuing the firm at $3.7bn. That was Hahn & Co.’s second-largest transaction at the time.

Shortly after the deal, Hahn & Co. replaced SK Shipping’s board of directors with its own representatives, according to a press release in 2021. Hahn & Co. had a 71.43% stake in the firm, while SK Holdings, the holding company of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, retained a 16.4% stake.

Founded in 2010, Hahn & Co. is a private equity firm focused on corporate acquisitions and investments in South Korea, according to its website. It counts more than $10.5bn of private equity assets under management.

Source: BNN Bloomberg

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