Chinese Shipper Seeking Revamp Said to Ask Banks to Join Loan

(Bloomberg) -- A Chinese container shipping firm has asked banks to join a loan backing its proposed acquisition of a U.S. computer distributor as it tries to transform itself into a general logistics operation, according to people familiar with the matter.

Tianjin Tianhai Investment Co., based in northern China, has invited lenders to contribute to the $4.27 billion loan to support its $6 billion proposed acquisition of computer, networking and software distributor Ingram Micro Inc., the people said. Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. is coordinating the seven-year facility, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

The move comes as slowing global economic growth and a mountain of debt claim more casualties in the shipping industry, including South Korea’s biggest container line Hanjin Shipping Co. A Singapore-based shipping trust Rickmers Trust Management Pte. said Thursday that it’s seeking to issue new units in the trust to pare obligations amid a restructuring.

Tianjin Tianhai’s Tianjin-based representative declined to comment when contacted by phone.

The firm is a Shanghai-traded affiliate of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. While Tianjin Tianhai surged 61 percent in five days following statements in July that it planned to acquire California-based Ingram Micro, the transaction has been held up as U.S. officials review the deal’s implications on national security. Shares of Tianjin Tianhai have dropped 12 percent from their August high.