The privatisation of South Korean shipowner HMM will not be revisited any time soon after a $5bn sale collapsed in February.

That was the message from the country’s oceans minister Kang Do-hyung.

He told reporters there were no plans to restart the sales process for now, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Instead, the intention is to operate the container ship, VLCC and bulker company “soundly”, Kang said.

State-owned groups Korea State Development Bank (KDB) and Korea Ocean Business Corp (KOBC) had agreed to sell their combined 57.9% holding in HMM for $4.8bn to Harim Group, the country’s largest poultry processor.

This deal fell through on 6 February due to “differences over certain issues”, domestic media reported.

Discussions were initially slated to conclude by 23 January but were later extended into last month.

Harim was reported to have demanded terms such as limitations on HMM’s cash dividends and a request to exclude its consortium partner JKL Partners from the restriction on share sales for five years.

These were refused by the sellers.

HMM operates around 70 vessels, with 35 more ships on order.

Analysts believe any future sale of HMM will now be more complicated, given expectations of further rate declines eating into profits and the pending shake-up of the liner alliance in which the company is a member.

Hapag-Lloyd is pulling out of THE Alliance grouping to cooperate with AP Moller-Maersk.