Asiasat to be privatised

MUMBAI: Asian satellite service provider Asiasat has said that its major shareholder plans to take the company private to allow management to focus on business development in a competitive market.

Under the proposed privatisation there will be a scheme of arrangement under which all shares, including all shares underlying American Depositary Shares (ADS), not already held by Asiasat’s controlling shareholder will be cancelled in exchange for the share offer price of HK$18.30 per share.

For Asiasat shareholders, the cancellation price of HK$18.30 per share represents a premium of approximately 30.7 per cent over the closing price of HK$14 per share as quoted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on 8 February 2007, the day prior to the suspension of Asiasat’s shares.

An announcement said that the privatisation follows persistent over-supply of transponder capacity and the slow introduction of new applications in the Asia-Pacific region. As a result, the satellite market in the region remains very competitive, and Asiasat’s share price has not performed satisfactorily.

The offeror is a BVI incorporated company jointly owned by Able Star, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of CITIC Group, and GE Equity, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of General Electric Capital Corporation. The General Electric group is also proposing to acquire an interest in AsiaSat’s controlling shareholder. On completion of the acquisition and the privatisation, Asiasat will be jointly indirectly owned by CITIC Group and General Electrical Capital Corporation.

In the three year period prior to the announcement date, the price of AsiaSat’s shares decreased by 11.9 per cent compared to an increase of 51.1 per cent in the Hang Seng Index over the same period. The proposed privatisation would give the management of AsiaSat greater flexibility to focus on the development of business and marketing activities.

It would also relieve Asiasat of the heavy financial and administrative burden of dual listings on both the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, which are disproportionate to the benefits of maintaining such listings. The proposed privatisation is subject to a number of conditions. It is the intention of Offeror to maintain the existing business of AsiaSat upon the successful privatisation of AsiaSat. No major changes to the existing operating and management structure are expected to be introduced as a result of the implementation of the privatisation. For AsiaSat customers, there will be no change.

The total amount of cash required to effect the privatisation is approximately HK$2,235 million, which will be financed with from the existing resources of CITIC Group and GE Equity.

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