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China Merchants looking to privatise at S$1.02 per share

TOLL road operator China Merchants has become the latest privatisation target on the Singapore bourse.

Easton Overseas Ltd, an indirectly wholly owned unit of China Merchants, on Monday said that it is planning to make a voluntary conditional cash offer for the shares that it does not already own in China Merchants at S$1.02 a piece.

Easton already owns 75.88 per cent of China Merchants. This values the company at about S$1.8 billion.

The offer will be extended on the same terms to shares issued or to be issued under the company's options and convertible bonds.

The offer will be conditional on the offeror having received, by the offer close, valid acceptances of 90 per cent of the company's shares.

Easton is an investment holding company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 1994. It is a unit of Cornerstone Holdings, which is in turn a unit of China Merchants Huajian Highway Investment Co, which is in turn a unit of CM Highway, which is in turn a unit of China Merchants Group.

The offeror said that it has taken this action to counter the low trading liquidity of the shares, and to offer shareholders a "clean cash exit opportunity" to realise their investment at a 21.9 per cent premium over the volume-weighted average price the last one month.

It will also give the company greater management flexibility, and the company can also save on expenses related to maintain a listing.

The offeror does not plan to keep the company listed.