Glorious on the brink of HK$3 b privatisation

Trading in the stock of mainland property developer suspended as major shareholder Zhang Zhirong weighs buying out investors

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 3:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 3:30am

Shares in Shanghai-based developer Glorious Property were suspended from trading in Hong Kong yesterday because of a possible privatisation bid estimated to be worth HK$3.1 billion.

Four years after the mainland developer listed in Hong Kong, Glorious Property requested a halt in the trading of its share yesterday morning because majority shareholder Zhang Zhirong was considering making a buyout offer to independent shareholders, it said in a statement filed to the Hong Kong exchange.

Zhang, who is also the largest shareholder in shipbuilder China Rongsheng Heavy Industries, and the 79th-richest individual on the mainland this year according to Forbes magazine, is the owner of about 68 per cent of Glorious Property.

The value of the possible privatisation offer is based on the current price of the shares, which closed 6.9 per cent higher at HK$1.24 on Friday. The stock has fallen 15 per cent this year, compared with a 3.7 per cent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Glorious Property was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in October 2009 through an initial public offering to raise US$1.53 billion.

Company spokesmen were not available to comment on the matter yesterday.

"If the plan proceeds, it will be the first Hong Kong-listed mainland developer to go private," said Mizuho Securities property analyst Alan Jin.

However, property analysts do not expect the potential move to trigger a privatisation trend among its rivals.

"Mainland developers still hope to use their Hong Kong listing status to enjoy lower costs of funding and flexible financing channels," said Kenny Tang Sing-hing, a general manager at AMTD Financial Planning.

David Hong, the head of research at China Real Estate Information, said Glorious Property had failed to "win investors' favour because of its business performance and corporate image".

"The company's shares have long been trading at far below their net asset value," Hong said. "That triggered the privatisation move."

The stock is trading at 67 per cent of its net asset value of HK$3.80 per share estimated by Jefferies in a research report released early this month.

Glorious Property achieved contracted sales of about 5 billion yuan (HK$6.36 billion) for the first nine months of this year, just 45 per cent of targeted sales for the full year, at a time when the market is stable and many developers are reporting robust sales.

Last year, a company owned by Zhang was accused by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission of insider trading in the shares of mainland oil giant CNOOC before it announced its intention to buy Canadian energy company Nexen.

Zhang resigned from the chairmanship of Glorious Property and Rongsheng in November last year.

Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service downgraded Glorious Property's corporate rating last month with a negative outlook, citing increased liquidity risk arising from its weak sales.