UE E&C says shares may be suspended from trading as free float falls below 10%

SINGAPORE - UE E&C announced on Tuesday (Jan 27) that the Singapore Exchange may suspend trading of its shares as the percentage of the total number of issued shares (excluding treasury shares) in the company held in public hands has fallen below 10 per cent.

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

Tong Teik has disclosed it owns another 9.2 per cent, or 24.85 million shares, in the company.

Southern Capital's offer of $1.25 for each UE E&C share ends at 5.30pm on Wednesday. It had earlier said the $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.

UE E&C added on Tuesday that it will update shareholders in due course.