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Hapag-Lloyd merger with Hamburg-Sued called off

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The owners of unlisted container shipping group Hapag-Lloyd said the planned merger with rival Hamburg-Sued has been called off because terms could not be agreed.

The Albert-Ballin consortium of Hapag-Lloyd investors said in a brief statement late on Sunday that the Oetker family behind Hamburg-Sued had asked for merger talks to be ended.

Hapag-Lloyd and Hamburg-Sued, Germany's largest container shipping companies, said in December they were exploring a merger to create a global player better able to survive the sector's four-year slump.

Earlier this month, Hapag-Lloyd posted higher losses for 2012 due to unexpectedly low cargo volumes as a result of the global downturn and high energy costs, prompting it to defer the delivery of new ships.

Hapag-Lloyd co-owner Klaus-Michael Kuehne has said that if no agreement with Oetker can be reached, Kuehne would push for Hapag-Lloyd to go public on its own.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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