SIA makes offer for Tigerair unconditional

Analysts said that by making its offer unconditional, SIA should be able to sway some Tigerair shareholders. SIA has further extended the deadline for its offer from Jan 22 to Feb 5.
Analysts said that by making its offer unconditional, SIA should be able to sway some Tigerair shareholders. SIA has further extended the deadline for its offer from Jan 22 to Feb 5.ST FILE PHOTO

Shareholders who accept offer will get paid even if SIA falls short of 90% target

Tigerair shareholders who accept Singapore Airlines' (SIA) buyout offer will get their money, even if SIA falls short of its target.

This is after SIA yesterday made its offer for the budget airline unconditional. It also extended the deadline for acceptances.

The earlier offer meant SIA could have returned the stock to Tigerair investors if it did not meet its target to own enough shares - 90 per cent - needed to delist the carrier.

Going unconditional is likely aimed at prising more stock from reluctant shareholders as SIA attempts to push its holdings to 90 per cent.

The airline now owns, controls or has agreed to acquire 79.22 per cent of Tigerair's shares.

SIA also announced yesterday that it has further extended the deadline for its offer from Jan 22 to Feb 5.

The airline reiterated that its 45 cents-a-share price is locked in and will not be increased further.

SIA lifted the price on Jan 4 from 41 cents to 45 cents, representing a premium of 45 per cent over the firm's last-traded price of 31 cents before the offer was announced.

SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong said yesterday: "With the offer being declared unconditional, we are providing certainty that these shareholders will be paid the final offer price of 45 cents for their shares within 10 days.

"Shareholders who accept the offer from today up to the closing date will also receive payment at this final offer price."

By making its offer unconditional, SIA should be able to sway some shareholders, analysts said.

Veteran investor Mano Sabnani, who recently sold his 20,000 shares at 45 cents apiece, said: "Before this, there was a risk that if SIA did not get a 90 per cent stake, the offer would be cancelled and the price would fall back. I didn't want to risk it, so I decided to sell."

Mr Sabnani, chief executive of consultancy firm Rafflesia Holdings, added: "Now that the offer has been made unconditional and shareholders have certainty that they will be paid, I think more will be encouraged to take it up."

The offer price values Tigerair at approximately $1.125 billion.

SIA, which announced the offer last Nov 6, was persuaded by the Securities Investors Association of Singapore (Sias) to reconsider its initial price and extend the deadline.

Sias president and chief executive David Gerald said in a statement yesterday that with no chance of a higher offer, minority investors who have been holding out "would have to now think hard and make a decision which would be favourable to them".

Those who refuse to sell will remain Tigerair shareholders after the closing date.

If SIA takes 90 per cent control and delists the budget carrier, shareholders who want out will then have to find a buyer privately and determine the price.

"This will be not an easy task," Mr Gerald said.

If SIA does not reach 90 per cent, Tigerair will continue to be listed with the share price determined by market forces, he noted, adding that it could go below the offer price, especially given the current adverse market conditions.

SIA shares closed 5 cents down at $10.96 yesterday, while Tigerair shares gained 0.5 cent to end at 45.5 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2016, with the headline 'SIA makes offer for Tigerair unconditional'. Print Edition | Subscribe