Shui On Construction and Materials (Socam) decided to make an offer to privatise a London-listed unit after some institutional shareholders expressed an intention to cash out, chairman Vincent Lo Hong-sui said. Mr Lo said details of the buyout plan for its 42.9 per cent owned China Central Properties, listed on the London stock exchange's AIM in June 2007, would be available this week. 'We did receive requests from our shareholders, largely hedge funds, who intended to realise their investment [in China Central]. The stock is apparently trading at discounts and low volume,' he said. The proposed privatisation was made public on Tuesday. Shares of China Central, which specialises in distressed property projects on the mainland, were at 44 pence (HK$4.99) in mid-afternoon trade in London, a steep discount to its GBP1.50 per share net asset value. Philip Wong, the managing director of Socam Asset Management (Hong Kong), a unit of Socam, said China Central had US$260 million in cash, boosted by US$175 million of convertible bonds it had issued. 'With a strong financial position, China Central will seek bank financing in the mainland for its future expansion and need not rely on a cash injection from Socam,' he said. Socam yesterday reported net profit dropped 19.23 per cent to HK$562 million last year as turnover rose 4.73 per cent to HK$2.94 billion. The company recommended no final dividend, against 65 HK cents for 2007. Shares in Socam jumped 5.64 per cent to HK$8.05 yesterday. The profit decline was due mainly to a HK$558 million impairment loss on its 9.5 per cent stake in Shui On Land and a HK$231 million provision for venture capital investments. Separately, Socam chief executive Frankie Wong Yuet-leung said the plan to spin off its mainland joint venture, Lafarge Shui On Cement, on the Hong Kong stock exchange was progressing. 'We are actively considering it,' Mr Wong said.