Wheelock Properties saw its shares soar to a 52-week high yesterday after its parent company launched a HK$6.9 billion privatisation bid for the developer. The generous offer proposed by Wheelock & Co, chaired by Peter Woo Kwong-ching, sent the shares up 136.77 per cent to close at HK$12.62. On Tuesday, Wheelock & Co announced it would pay HK$13 in cash for each share in the unit, a 144 per cent premium above the stock's closing price on April 16, the last day it traded. The move came less than two weeks after Woo's plan to privatise the family's 72.9 per cent-owned Joyce Boutique Holdings was rejected by independent shareholders. Jeff Yau, an associate director at DBS Vickers Securities, said shares of Wheelock Properties were trading at a 60 per cent discount to net asset value before the proposed privatisation. Yau said the low liquidity of Wheelock Properties shares also made it difficult to raise funds in the equity market. 'It is meaningless to hold a listed entity which is unable to tap the capital market to fund its expansion,' he said. Last month, Wheelock Properties and New World Development won MTR Corp's tender for the HK$18 billion luxury residential project above Austin Station in West Kowloon. Wheelock Properties, which is 74 per cent owned by the group, has not raised any money from the public equity capital market for 35 years. 'Wheelock Properties will require substantial funding for its future developments. Without being subject to the requirements relevant to being run as a standalone listed public company, the firm will be able to fund larger property development projects through leveraging Wheelock's greater financial strength,' the group said in an announcement filed with the stock exchange on Tuesday. Net profit of Wheelock Properties jumped 78.67 per cent to HK$1.45 billion in the year to December. The company said its net cash position since December last year has declined due to the new projects in Foshan and Austin Road. As of December last year, it had net cash of HK$2.77 billion. The group has three projects on the mainland through a 50-50 joint venture with China Merchants. The three residential projects will provide a total of 5.55 million square feet in gross floor area when completed as early as 2012. Paul Louie, regional head of property research at Nomura International, said the group's privatisation exercise aims to streamline its corporate structure. 'It is a sensible move as Wheelock and Wharf held nine listed companies 10 years ago,' he said. The group now holds six listed firms. These are Wheelock & Co, Wheelock Properties, Wharf (Holdings), Wharf's subsidiaries i-Cable Communications and Harbour Centre Development, and Singapore-listed Wheelock Properties (Singapore).