China Gas Holdings shares recorded their biggest jump in nearly three years yesterday following news that an undisclosed party has offered to buy 'a substantial stake' in the mainland-based gas supplier.
The stock leapt 34 HK cents or 14.35 per cent to HK$2.71 on resumption of trading, on a day the Hang Seng Index rose 1.94 per cent.
The company, whose former managing director Liu Minghui was arrested in Shenzhen in December last year for alleged embezzlement, received the offer from 'an independent potential investor' on November 9.
China Gas said no negotiation on the offer had taken place yet. But brokers said the news had fuelled speculation of a possible change of hands for the company.
'The statement implies an interested party is interested in taking control of the company by buying a stake, which ... may trigger a possible takeover,' Christfund Securities' Simon Lam Ka-hang said. 'Retail investors are betting on a possible takeover but the offerer may seek an exemption from the stock regulator.'
Joint managing director Eric Leung Wing-cheong said the board would discuss the offer.
Some brokers said that for the offer to become a bid it would need to appeal to China Gas' strategic shareholders as well as retail investors.
According to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, Liu is the biggest shareholder, with a 13.43 per cent interest, followed by Sinopec, with 9.92 per cent, India's Gail, with 8.55 per cent, Oman Oil, 7.66 per cent, the Oman Investment Fund, 5 per cent, and the SK Group, with 10.41 per cent.