The Central Bank of Norway, which manages the country's oil wealth though the oil fund, is among the major shareholders in Hanjin Shipping.
At the end of 2015, the central bank of Norway had around USD 3.5 million invested in the container carrier, but the bank and other shareholders could now risk losing their entire investment if the South Korean company goes bankrupt.
Hanjin Shipping has on Wednesday filed for receivership at the Seoul Central District Court. The speculations concerning receivership emerged already on Tuesday, spurring the stock exchange in South Korea to suspend trade of the stock.
However, the share price had already gone down steadily since the beginning of the year, as the South Korean carrier has struggled to generate enough money to get a handle on the huge debt of USD 4.2 billion, during a time when overcapacity sent freight rates to rock bottom.
And when the company had its most recent rescue plan proposal flatly rejected by creditors this week, management decided to take the initial steps toward filing for receivership.
The plan containing a proposal for a major share purchase by Korea Airline, which is a sister company under Hanjin Group and already the biggest shareholder, was simply not enough.
As such, the company has now filed a petition for court receivership. If the court approves the petition, the company's assets will be frozen and a new management team will be appointed to decide on the next steps.
The new management would likely consist of members from state-owned Korea Development Bank (KDB), which serves as the carrier's biggest creditor and is seen as the government's voice in the matter.
The bank already owns a majority of the shares in competitor Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) after HMM converted debt into shares earlier this year as part of a rescue plan for the crisis-stricken company.
A merger between the two South Korean container carriers thus looks like a plausible option. Not least because South Korea is an export-driven economy which generated 46 percent of its GDP last year on foreign sales.
As such, the government will likely go to great lengths to salvage the shipping industry, note several shipping analysts.
South Korea's Financial Services Commission has already announced that HMM is weighing a takeover of some of the assets in Hanjin Shipping. On Wednesday, this made the HMM share increase slightly after months of declines.
The share price has now gone up by about 25 percent and is being traded for approximately 9.3 won per share.
ShippingWatch has communicated with the Bank of Norway, which informs in an email that the bank does not comment on individual investments. The bank manages the money from Norway's oil wealth through the country's oil fund, which has a market value of around USD 888 billion.
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