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UE E&C free float falls below 10%

THE number of free-float shares in UE E&C has fallen below 10 per cent, leading to a possible suspension of trading in its shares.

Private equity firm Southern Capital, which has made an offer for the listed construction firm, now owns and has agreed to acquire shares representing 81.15 per cent of UE E&C as at 5pm on Monday.

Tong Teik owns another 9.2 per cent, or 24.85 million shares, in the group.

Southern Capital's offer of S$1.25 for each UE E&C share ends at 5.30pm on Wednesday. It had earlier said the S$1.25 offer price is also final and cannot be changed.

The group had intended to gain control of at least 90 per cent of UE E&C and to privatise it. But Tong Teik has been building up its stake in the past few months, in what was seen as a bid to get Southern Capital to either raise its offer price or block the planned delisting.

According to listing rules, if the free float drops below 10 per cent or if the shares are in the hands of fewer than 500 shareholders, the Singapore Exchange can suspend and possibly delist the stock. If there are more than 500 shareholders, UE E&C could remain listed but thinly traded, as Southern Capital had earlier said it would not take steps to restore the free float.