New World Development revives plan to take its mainland China property unit private
Previous HK$18.6 billion privatisation bid rejected by minority shareholders in 2014
New World Development, chaired by Henry Cheng Kar-shun, has revived a privatisation plan for its subsidiary New World China Land in a HK$21.4 billion deal to buy out the shares it does not own in the property unit.
The developer is offering HK$7.80 in cash for each share of New World China Land. The price represents 26 per cent premium over the last closing price on January 4, according to the filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Wednesday.
It is the company’s second attempt to take its 68.75 per cent owned mainland property unit private.
In 2014, a HK$18.6 billion privatisation bid was rejected by minority shareholders. Since New World China Land is domiciled in the Cayman Islands, the firm has to follow the headcount rule that gives each shareholder an equal vote, irrespective of the size of their shareholding. New World Development aborted its move after 494 investors voted against the buyout proposal and 255 in favour. The 494 opponents represented a 0.16 per cent interest in the company.
Analysts said New World Development was sitting on a cash reserve of HK$30 billion and should be well placed to launch a privatisation bid again.
According to the announcement on Wednesday, HSBC, the financial adviser to New World Development, has granted a credit facility of HK$21.47 billion to the developer for the proposed privatisation.
The announcement came as a number of Hong Kong developers gradually offloaded their assets in view of the property market uncertainty and slowing economy.
New World China Land last month sold three projects in Hubei, Guangdong and Hainan provinces to Evergrande Real Estate for HK$16.36 billion. Early this month, New World Development and controlling shareholder Chow Tai Fook Enterprises announced the sale of five projects on the mainland to Evergrande for HK$24.4 billion.
In the announcement on Wednesday, New World Development said it intended to continue with the existing business of New World China upon the completion of the privatisation deal.