Weibo-owner Sina to go private in $2.6 billion deal with CEO-led firm

FILE PHOTO: Sina Weibo's booth is pictured at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2017 in Beijing, China April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

(Reuters) - Sina Corp SINA.O, owner of social media platform Weibo WB.O, will be taken private in a $2.6 billion deal with Chief Executive Officer Charles Chao, the Chinese internet company said on Monday.

The offer price of $43.3 per share is at an 18% premium to the stock’s closing price on July 2, the last trading day before Sina received the preliminary offer of $41 per share.

U.S.-listed shares of Sina rose more than 6% in premarket trading.

Chao’s holding company, New Wave, is the largest shareholder of Sina, with a 12.15% stake as of July 10, according to Refinitiv-Eikon data.

Many Chinese companies are opting out of U.S. stock exchanges, following rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies, by considering go-private deals or returning to equity markets closer to home.

E-commerce firms Alibaba BABA.N and 9618.HK have completed secondary listings in Hong Kong. Others including travel firm Ctrip TCOM.O and Baidu BIDU.O were considering Hong Kong listings, Reuters reported earlier this year.

Sina said Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd is acting as a financial adviser to the special committee it had formed to evaluate the proposal.

The deal is expected to close during the first quarter of 2021, Sina said.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Anil D’Silva