IBM targets up to HK$669m in sale of Lenovo shares
Tim LeeMaster and Wong Ka-chun
International Business Machines Corp plans to raise as much as HK$669 million from offloading one-third of its remaining stake in Lenovo Group, the world's third-largest personal computer maker, in a share placement.
IBM is selling 223 million existing Lenovo shares at an offer price ranging from HK$2.92 to HK$3 each, according to a sale document given to institutional investors. The price range represents a discount of up to 6.7 per cent to Lenovo's last closing price of HK$3.13.
After the stake sale, IBM will own 4.9 per cent of Lenovo. Citigroup is arranging the sale.
The bank also arranged the sale of Lenovo shares by IBM in February. At that time, IBM raised HK$960 million by selling a 3.5 per cent stake in Lenovo. The sale reduced its stake to 11.5 per cent.
IBM originally held 18.9 per cent of Lenovo after the mainland computer maker paid US$1.25 billion for IBM's personal computer unit in May 2005.
Lenovo last May said it would allow IBM to sell more of its shares than previously agreed. Under the new terms, IBM was allowed to dispose of as much as two-thirds of its stake immediately and the balance starting from this Monday.
The shares are down 1 per cent this year while the Hang Seng Index is up 3.7 per cent.
Lenovo commanded the largest share of Asia's personal computer market in the first quarter with 17.8 per cent, according to market researcher IDC. Hewlett-Packard was second with 15.4 per cent followed by Dell with 8.5 per cent.
The company last month said that it planned to cut 1,200 jobs to boost earnings. The move will save US$100 million in the year ending next March 31 and cost as much as US$60 million in the quarter ending June 30, the company said at the time.
Lenovo's gross margin on sales was 13.5 per cent at the end of last year. That was almost half the 23.7 per cent Hewlett-Packard earned.
Lenovo and four other mainland companies listed in Hong Kong have applied to sell shares in the domestic market, according to market sources. The IPOs are expected to raise eight to 16 billion yuan.
Private equity firms TPG Newbridge and General Atlantic paid US$350 million for a 33 per cent stake in the computer maker in May 2005.
Lenovo moved its Beijing headquarters to Raleigh, North Carolina, after the IBM unit acquisition.