| HONG KONG, March 1
HONG KONG, March 1 Hong Kong-based private
equity firm PAG has struck a deal with the three co-founders of
Yingde Gases to buy their stake in the firm for $616
million, the latest twist in a months-long battle for control
one of China's largest industrial gases company.
PAG signed an agreement with Zhao Xiangti, Sun Zhongguo and
Trevor Strutt to buy their combined 42.1 percent stake at a
price of HK$6 ($0.7729) per share, Yingde said in a filing to
the Hong Kong stock exchange. The agreement would be suspended
if they receive a competing offer at least 5 percent higher than
PAG's, or equivalent to HK$6.3 per share, the filing said.
The move followed an announcement by Hong Kong-based
activist hedge fund Oasis Management Company Ltd on Monday that
it would seek a seat on Yingde's board as the company considers
strategic alternatives, including an outright sale.
Sun and Strutt, previously the Chairman/CEO and COO of
Yingde, respectively, were relieved from their posts during a
November board meeting that named Zhao chairman of the company
and have since been in a legal fight to get reinstated.
In December U.S. industrial gas maker Air Products
sent a "letter of interest" to Yingde's board indicating its
intention to make a cash offer to buy the company.
PAG declined to comment, while Air Products didn't
immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.
"We believe that this is a positive development for
shareholders because it potentially sets a higher price for a
takeover – equal to or higher than HK$6.30 - whether that
ultimately is by PAG, Air Products, or another bidder," Seth
Fischer, chief investment officer of Oasis, said in a statement.
($1 = 7.7625 Hong Kong dollars)
(Reporting by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Muralikumar