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TUI AG set to agree Hapag-Lloyd deal this week

By Jan Schwartz

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German travel and logistics group TUI looks set to agree the sale of its stake in container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd to majority shareholder, the Albert Ballin consortium, this week.

A spokesman for the finance authority of the German city state of Hamburg, which is part of the Albert Ballin consortium, said it was quite possible that a deal would be announced on Wednesday, when TUI holds its annual shareholder meeting.

A TUI spokesman said: "We are in advanced and good talks."

TUI has for months been inching toward a deal that would keep the world's fifth-biggest container shipper in German hands, as well as being affordable for the city of Hamburg and other consortium members.

The Ballin group of investors, named after the former Hapag boss credited with having invented the cruise, also includes Klaus-Michael Kuehne, the majority owner of Swiss logistics group Kuehne & Nagel .

Sources told Reuters earlier this month that the consortium may buy 20 percent of Hapag-Lloyd. That would be less than expected because TUI has said it wanted to divest most of the 38.4 percent it holds in Hapag-Lloyd.

TUI, which aims to focus on its tourism business, originally tried to sell a majority stake in Hapag-Lloyd in 2008. That attempt was derailed by the global financial crisis, meaning TUI kept a larger stake than it originally intended.

TUI AG controls London-listed tour operator TUI Travel .

(Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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