By In-Soo Nam

SEOUL -- South Korea's Hanjin Shipping Co. signed a deal to sell its stake in the U.S. port operator that runs Long Beach, Calif.'s, biggest container terminal to Mediterranean Shipping Co.

With the deal, the South Korean shipping line has entered the home stretch in the sale of key assets as it faces liquidation following its bankruptcy in August.

The Seoul Central District Court handling Hanjin's insolvency proceedings on Tuesday approved the deal on the condition it also is endorsed by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the U.S. port authority.

The court said Hanjin had signed a contract to sell its 54% stake in Total Terminals International LLC to Geneva-based MSC, the world's second largest container operator by capacity.

The exact value of the deal wasn't known.

"The value of the deal is expected to be made public once it is approved by all parties involved and the contract takes effect," said a Seoul judge.

MSC had formed a consortium with Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. earlier this month in the race for the 385-acre facility that handles three million containers.

But Hyundai Merchant said last week it was pulling out of the joint bid and instead decided to take a minority stake in Total Terminals from MSC if the European shipping line won the deal.

MSC already owns the remaining 46% of the Long Beach terminal operator.

Los Angeles and Long Beach are the two biggest U.S. ports in terms of capacity, handling the majority of imports and exports between the U.S. and Asia, moving more than 15 million containers annually.

Another major Hanjin asset -- the business network and client information of its Asia-U.S. route -- was sold to Korea Line Corp. in November. The deal is expected to be completed next month.

The sales process heralds the beginning of the end for Hanjin, which filed for receivership in late August, leaving $14 billion worth of goods stranded at sea for months.

Hanjin, once the world's seventh-largest container operator, is under court order to cut its workforce and dispose of assets such as ships and terminals.

Many brokers expect Hanjin eventually to be liquidated or reduced to a much smaller regional operator.

Write to In-Soo Nam at In-Soo.Nam@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 20, 2016 10:15 ET (15:15 GMT)

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