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Hillhouse Capital raises Eu Yan Sang stake again

A PROMINENT Chinese fund backed by Yale University's endowment and Stanford University has upped its substantial stake in traditional Chinese medicine retailer Eu Yan Sang International.

Hillhouse Capital Management, run by billionaire Chinese financier Lei Zhang, picked up 21,000 shares in Eu Yan Sang at S$0.615 apiece on May 23, Eu Yan Sang said in a Singapore Exchange filing Tuesday morning.

This move took Hillhouse's stake to about 23.49 million shares or 5.238 per cent of the mainboard-listed group.

It followed another purchase by Hillhouse last week. An entity managed by Hillhouse bought nearly 1.37 million Eu Yan Sang shares at an average S$$0.6368 each on May 19, taking Hillhouse's interest in Eu Yan Sang from 22.1 million or 4.93 per cent to 23.47 million shares or 5.23 per cent, Eu Yan Sang said in a bourse filing Monday evening.

That May 19 purchase made Hillhouse a substantial shareholder by virtue of its crossing the 5 per cent stake threshold, and made it a Eu Yan Sang associate.

Hillhouse's purchases came in the wake of a takeover bid launched on May 16 by a consortium led by a UOB-backed fund, a Temasek Holdings unit and Eu Yan Sang International's group chief executive officer Richard Eu. The consortium plans to delist the group.

The fund's average purchase prices on both May 19 and May 23 were above the consortium's offer price of S$0.60 per share, which the consortium had said was final.

Hillhouse's intention behind its stake increase is unclear. It had not responded to queries from The Business Times as at press time.

Eu Yan Sang shares closed flat at S$0.62 on Tuesday.