Seapower gets bite of regional food market

SEAPOWER Group plans to take a big bite of the Southeast Asian food market through an acquisition of Singapore-listed Summa Investments (Summavest).

Seapower has been given an option to acquire a 52.4 per cent stake in Summavest at S$0.85 (about HK$4) per share.

If Seapower exercises the option to purchase 80 million Summavest shares from Xie International Holdings, an investment company of the Indonesian Soeryadjaya family, it will have to pay S$68 million.

The option will expire by the end of this year.

Seapower will have to make a public general offer to buy out the rest of the 70 million shares after the option has been exercised.

But managing director of Seapower International Holdings Francis Yuen Tin-fan said the rest of the shareholders were unlikely to accept the offer because of the low offer price, which would allow Seapower to confine its stake to 52.4 per cent rather thanbeing forced to take up all shares and privatise the company.

''Our purpose is to maintain the listing in Singapore,'' he said.

It has been reported that international financier George Soros and Seapower are looking to buy the company.

Mr Soros is believed to acting through his Quatum investment fund. But Mr Yuen declined to comment whether Mr Soros is involved in the buy-out.

Summavest is trading at around S$1.02, while the net asset value of the company is S$1.20, according to Mr Yuen.

Seapower and Seabase have formed a 50-50 joint-venture company called Anglang Investments to consider the acquisition.

''We're studying, with Seabase, how to develop the business if we are to exercise the option. We hope we can get a listed vehicle in Singapore to develop the food industry as a long-term investment,'' Mr Yuen said.

It is believed that the consortium has also bought into the Soeryadjayas' Hong Kong-listed Summa Promet and is working on restructuring the company before relisting it on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Seabase was formerly an offshoot of Seapower International, but was sold to China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation (Ceroil) in May.

Seapower is controlled by Indonesia's Choi family, but its shareholders include Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing and CITIC Pacific chief executive Larry Yung.