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OCBC, Great Eastern talks to sell UEL stake enter final stages; Perennial calls for trading halt


ONE BIDDER has been shortlisted to take over Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC) and Great Eastern Holdings Limited's combined stakes in United Engineers Limited (UEL) and its subsidiary WBL Corp Ltd, the pair said in a release to the Singapore Exchange before market open on Wednesday.

Though the bidder was not named, Perennial Real Estate, which has said in early June that it had submitted a proposal, requested for a trading halt on Wednesday morning, at about the same time as UEL's request for trading halt. Both are mainboard-listed companies, as are OCBC and Great Eastern.   

"OCBC Bank and Great Eastern wish to announce that they are in final stages of discussions with a shortlisted bidder regarding their combined stakes in UEL and WBL," OCBC and Great Eastern said.

"In the event any transaction in respect of their combined stakes in UEL and WBL were to materialise, such transaction is not expected to have a material impact on the earnings of OCBC Bank and Great Eastern."

OCBC, Great Eastern and the bank's founding Lee family own some 36 per cent of UEL. Buying their UEL stake would trigger a mandatory takeover offer for the company, worth S$1.8 billion, under Singapore listing rules.

OCBC's counter was at S$10.790 before the announcement. Great Eastern was at S$24.50, Perennial at S$0.885, and UEL at S$2.710.