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UPDATE 1-Evergrande rapidly builds up Vanke stake, just shy of No. 2 shareholder
November 30, 2016 / 2:50 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Evergrande rapidly builds up Vanke stake, just shy of No. 2 shareholder

* Evergrande now owns 14 pct of Vanke

* No. 2 shareholder China Resources has 15.2 pct

* Evergrande has spent $5.3 bln on Vanke stake so far

* Evergrande has not commented on intentions towards Vanke (Recasts with Evergrande statement, share price)

By Clare Jim

HONG KONG, Nov 30 (Reuters) - China Evergrande Group said it has bought more shares in rival property developer China Vanke - the latest purchase in a rapid build up this month that could soon see it become the company’s second-biggest No. 2 shareholder.

Vanke is at the centre of rare high-profile and complex corporate power struggle that has already seen its biggest shareholder, the Baoneng financial conglomerate, try to oust its board and Vanke management seek a white knight deal.

While highly indebted Evergrande’s intention towards the country’s biggest homebuilder remain unclear, some analysts say it might seek seats on Vanke’s board at the latter’s next annual shareholder meeting in March.

Evergrande said in a statement late Tuesday that it has now spent 36.3 billion yuan ($5.3 billion) to hold 14.07 percent of Vanke. That represents a sudden jump from just 10 percent a week ago and a holding of around 5 percent in August.

By contrast, Baoneng holds 25.4 percent while Vanke’s second-biggest shareholder, China Resources Group owns 15.24 percent.

Vanke’s shares in Shenzhen jumped over 5 percent in Wednesday early trade, while its Hong Kong-listed stock climbed 1.3 percent.

Analysts said on Wednesday that around 25 percent of Vanke shares remain as free float on the Shenzhen and Hong Kong markets combined and expectations are high that Evergrande will continue to buy.

“Even if Evergrande doesn’t take over Vanke in the end, it’ll get a good share of Vanke’s earnings as a minority shareholder. But if they do take it over, it’ll help Evergrande’s balance sheet a lot and lower its gearing,” said David Hong, head of research at CRIC Hong Kong.

Evergrande’s statement follows disclosures by the Shenzhen stock exchange that block trades of China Vanke A shares, representing a 3.99 percent stake, were made on Tuesday.

The shares were traded at 27.5 yuan each, 5.1 percent higher than Tuesday’s closing price.

Evergrande did not confirm it was the purchaser of the block trade.

Vanke’s management announced in June a $6.9 billion deal with white knight Shenzhen Metro Group Co Ltd, fearing a hostile takeover bid by Baoneng Group but it remains unclear if that deal will proceed.

$1 = 6.8933 Chinese yuan Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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