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* Hyundai, Daewoo separately study bids for France’s GTT
* Possible acquisition looms as China pressures Korean shipyards
SEOUL, Nov 22 (Reuters) - South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering are separately looking at 1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) bids for French engineering company GTT (Gaztransport & Technigaz), several sources with direct knowledge of the proposed deals said.
The potential moves from the French firm that specialisese in cargo containment systems for high-value LNG carriers comes as China is challenging Korea as the world’s leading shipbuilder.
The sources, who could not be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Hyundai and Daewoo were monitoring the situation prior to deciding whether to bid or not. The two are considering separate bids.
GTT’s three shareholders-- GDF Suez, the world’s biggest utility by market value, French oil company Total and U.S. private equity fund Hellman & Friedman-are planning to sell their stakes, the sources said.
However, it was possible that Korean shipbuilders could team up for a joint bid to fend off Chinese threat, they added.
“If any Chinese rival shipbuilder takes over GTT, it will negatively impact (Korean shipbuilders) in the LNG ship market,” one source said.
GTT has core technology to build LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) membrane containment systems, used in LNG carriers.
One source said S outh Korean shipbuilders pay GTT around $10 million in royalties on average for each LNG vessel . An LNG vessel typically costs $200 million.
Korean shipyards are developing their own technology for LNG cargo containment , but are far short of that provided by the established GTT, industry sources said.
Hyundai and Daewoo declined to comment.
Total wants to sell its 30 percent stake in GTT because it needs to secure funds by selling non-core business in the midst of European debt crisis, another source added. ($1 = 0.743 Euros) (Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by David Chance)