Henderson Land Development, the blue-chip flagship headed by Lee Shau-kee, yesterday launched another bid to privatise its 73.48 per cent-held Henderson Investment in a deal that could be worth more than $7.5 billion. Henderson Land and Henderson Investment shares were suspended from trading yesterday pending an announcement of the details of the buyout plan. The two companies said in a joint statement the privatisation would be by way of exchange of securities. Henderson Land made a similar bid for its investment arm in 2002 but minority shareholders, led by Templeton Investment, rejected an offer of $7.60 a share then because they said it was too low. Henderson Investment's asset value was $10.52 a share at the time. Analysts said shareholders would be unimpressed if the latest privatisation proposal merely involved a simple share swap, because Hong Kong's property market was on a downward trend. The company's share price was $10.65 when trading was halted. Mark Mobius, the managing director of Templeton Investment, confirmed it no longer held shares in the company, thus clearing one of the potential hurdles to Henderson Land's proposal. The bid for Henderson Investment, whose principal business is property investments largely overlapping with those of its parent, is seen as a way to streamline the group's structure. Based on the closing price, Henderson Land would need to pay $7.5 billion in the buyout, or 11.3 per cent of the company's shareholder funds as of June. One property analyst said a share-swap option with Henderson Land would not be attractive enough since the estimated fair value for Henderson Investment was not less than $12 a share, representing 30 per cent discount to its current net asset value of $16.94. Assuming an all-cash option for all the shareholders, Henderson Land's net gearing would rise to 29 per cent from 18 per cent. The analyst said the company might seek to list its second-tier property investment projects by way of real estate investment trust funds. The buyout bid follows similar deals this year when Henderson Land won approval to buy shares it does not own in mainland property unit Henderson China Holdings and web unit Henderson Cyber. The privatised offers for Henderson Cyber and Henderson China represented a premium of 91 per cent and 66.7 per cent to the share price. Henderson Land also announced Alexander Au Siu-kee would be appointed executive director and chief financial officer with effect from December 8. Mr Au is a former chief executive of Hang Seng Bank and Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.