Hyundai Merchant-preferred shares

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Shareholders of Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. Friday approved a proposal that allows South Korea's No. 2 shipper to increase the limit of preferred shares it can sell.

In an annual meeting held earlier in the day, Hyundai Merchant shareholders okayed the proposal to change Hyundai Merchant's articles to empower the board for rights issues, although Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., the second-largest shareholder with a 22 percent stake, opposed the plan.

Hyundai Merchant has sought to raise the limit of preferred shares from the current 20 million to 60 million, in a bid to secure liquidity amid an industry-wide slump.

In 2011, the shipper also attempted to raise the limit, but the proposal failed to win approval from its shareholders.

Hyundai Merchant saw its net loss widen in 2012 due to falling shipping rates and currency losses. Net loss reached 999 billion won (US$894 million) last year, compared with a loss of 473 billion won a year earlier.

Sales gained 7.3 percent on-year to reach 7.71 trillion won last year, while it suffered an operating loss of 519 billion won, widening from a loss of 318 billion won the previous year, it said earlier.

Hyundai Group has been racing to increase its managerial rights over Hyundai Merchant.

Hyundai Heavy and its affiliate Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co. own a combined 33 percent in Hyundai Merchant. Hyundai Group and its allies own more than 47 percent of Hyundai Merchant.

Shares of Hyundai Merchant were trading at 14,100 won on the Seoul bourse as of 1:55 p.m., up 1.08 percent from the previous session's close.

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