The private investment company of Hong Kong’s billionaire Cheng family, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, proposed on Tuesday a buyout of up to HK$35.5 billion ($4.5 billion) for NWS Holdings, the infrastructure arm of the family’s property giant New World Development.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange that it’s offering HK$9.15 apiece to acquire the shares it does not already own in NWS. This includes a 60.9% stake held by New World Development that would lighten the debt load of the property developer. Chow Tai Fook Enterprises currently directly owns about 2.5% of NWS.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises said the offer represents a premium of 14.5% over its last traded price of HK$7.99 on Friday before its shares were suspended. It also translates to a premium of 30.9% over its average closing price of HK$6.99 for the 30 trading days prior to the trading halt, according to the statement. NWS saw its shares jump 10.3% in the Tuesday morning session after they resumed trading.
The offer will “immediately strengthen New World Development’s financial position” and “enhance the strategic focus of New World Development on property development, property investment and property related businesses,” the statement said. New World Development will receive about HK$21.8 billion from the shares disposal.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises may exercise its right to take NWS private if certain conditions are met, including acquiring at least 90% of NWS shares it does not already own, according to the statement. Henry Cheng, the eldest son of New World founder Cheng Yu-tung, is a director of Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, and the chairman of both New World and NWS.
The buyout comes as New World Development continues to step up its disposal of non-core assets to lower debt amid spiking interest rates and tumbling property prices. The real estate giant has said it aims to offload HK$10 billion worth of non-core assets during the financial year ended June.
NWS is the industrial flagship of New World Development with businesses spanning toll roads, construction and insurance. The company reported a 7.8% year-on-year increase in revenue to HK$17.6 billion in the six months ended December, according to its latest earnings report. It recorded a 26.6% decrease in net profit to HK$1.2 billion during the same period.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises has its roots in Chow Tai Fook Jewellery established in the 1920s. The private investment behemoth said it has interests in prime real estate, hospitality services, energy, media, as well as in growing tech companies, among others. Chow Tai Fook Enterprises is currently led by Patrick Tsang, the grandson-in-law of Cheng Yu-tung.
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