SCMP shares halted before offer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am

Trading in the shares of SCMP Group, the publisher of the South China Morning Post, was halted yesterday pending an announcement of the controlling shareholders' mandatory offer for the company's shares.

SCMP shares were last traded at HK$2.50, 4.6 per cent higher than Wednesday's close, before the suspension of the stock in the morning session.

SCMP yesterday said in an announcement that Kerry Media, a substantial shareholder, was required to make a mandatory offer for the company's shares under Rule 26.1(d) of the codes on takeovers and mergers and share repurchases.

The rule states that when two or more parties are acting in concert, and they collectively hold not less than 30 per cent but not more than 50 per cent of voting rights of the company, they need to extend offers to other shareholders of the company if they increased their voting rights by more than 2 per cent from the lowest percentage holding in the past 12 months.

Kerry Group, together with Kerry Media, bought SCMP shares in the market in the past 12 months at between HK$2.192 and HK$2.736 each, according to a filing with the stock exchange.

Kerry Group now holds 40.04 per cent of SCMP, up from 38.09 per cent in January.

'We have received a notice from Kerry Media today that the requirement to make a mandatory offer for the shares of SCMP Group has been triggered,' an SCMP spokesperson said yesterday, adding that the trading suspension was sought before the release of a formal announcement of the offer.

Market watchers said Kerry Group's mandatory offer should not be interpreted as its wanting to take SCMP private.