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Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), South Korea[ds_preview]‘s major shipping line, remained in the red last year due to low freight rates and a continued operating loss.

Net loss came to 4.4 bill. won (3.84 mill. $) last year, compared with a loss of 627 bill. won a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing. But operating loss widened to 833 bill. won from 279 bill. won over the cited period, mainly due to low freight rates.

Sales also fell 18.8 % to 4.58 trill. won from 5.65 trill. won. »Low global trade and freight rates were behind the widening operating losses,« the shipping line said in a SEC filing.

During the fourth quarter, the shipping firm logged an operating loss of 186 bill. won on sales of 1.27 trill. won. The company said it will expand its business network, while seeking to beef up its competitiveness.

Meanwhile, HMM’s debt ratio slightly increased from 186% to 235%, as HMM issued convertible bonds, adjusted charter fees and debt with bondholders and acquired overseas shipping terminals. Korea Investor Service (a Moody’s Affiliate) upgraded the company’s credit rating from D (Default) to BB (Stable).