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UPDATE 1-Malaysian tycoon offers to take Guoco Group private for $1.1 bln
December 12, 2012 / 1:31 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Malaysian tycoon offers to take Guoco Group private for $1.1 bln

* Guoco’s top shareholder offers 25 percent premium

* Guoco owns almost 15 percent of Bank of East Asia

* Southeast Asian tycoons turning into top dealmakers (Adds details on other SE Asia deals)

HONG KONG, Dec 12 (Reuters) - A major shareholder in Guoco Group, a Hong Kong investment company controlled by Malaysian tycoon Quek Leng Chan, has made an offer to take the company private for HK$8.25 billion ($1.1 billion), further underscoring the dealmaking prowess of Southeast Asians this year.

Tycoons from Thailand to Indonesia have emerged as Asia’s top dealmakers this year as domestic companies eye expansion outside their home markets using cheap loans and rising stock markets..

Guoco Group said on Wednesday that the offer of HK$88.00 per share was made by GouLine Overseas Ltd, a unit of Hong Leong Co (Malaysia), a 24.8 percent premium over Guoco’s last traded price. Guoco shares have been suspended since Dec. 4 pending an announcement. The shares resumed trading on Wednesday, opening up 26.4 percent.

Guoco owns a near 15 percent stake in Hong Kong’s biggest family-run lender, Bank of East Asia Ltd, making it the second-biggest shareholder in the bank behind Spain’s No.4 lender, CaixaBank SA. BEA has a market value of $8.1 billion.

Guoco has previous experience running a bank and in 2001 it sold Hong Kong-based Dao Heng Bank to Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings Ltd for about $5.7 billion.

Apart from financial services, the group has investments in property, hospitality and leisure businesses. The privatisation will help the company support future business development of Guoco has its subsidiaries, the statement said.

Guoco shares are down 2.4 percent this year, underperforming a 21 percent rise in the broader Hong Kong benchmark index . Guoco’s controlling shareholders already own 71.5 percent of the company.

Southeast Asia’s most powerful tycoons - Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi and companies controlled by Indonesian businessman Stephen Riady - are currently engaged in a bidding war to control to control Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave Ltd.

Just last week, a conglomerate controlled by Thailand’s richest man, Dhanin Chearavanont’s Charoen Pokphand Group, agreed to buy HSBC’s $9.4 billion stake in Ping An Insurance.

$1 = 7.7500 Hong Kong dollars Reporting by Denny Thomas and Donny Kwok; Editing by Richard Pullin and Matt Driskill

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