Straits Trading Company accepts United Engineers' offer for WBL Corp

THE Straits Trading Company (STC) has thrown in the towel in the tussle over WBL Corporation, leaving the way open for rival bidder United Engineers (UE) to scoop up the auto dealer.

STC said in a statement yesterday that it and its concert parties will accept UE's offer to acquire their entire 44.58 per cent stake in WBL.

"As a long term investor, this decision did not come lightly," said STC chairman Chew Gek Khim in a statement.

"Our decision removes any uncertainty over WBL and is in the best interest of WBL stockholders, large and small as well as the many other WBL stakeholders."

In accepting UE's offer, STC will not walk away empty-handed - it will realise an immediate gain of about $83.3 million from its investment in WBL, and reap gross cash proceeds of $508.8 million.

STC, which is WBL's biggest shareholder, had also been the first bidder in the ring, launching a takeover offer for WBL in November.

But the firm said that it decided to move aside for UE so that WBL would have a better future.

"If UE's offer is unsuccessful, or if STC does not accept the UE offer, STC and UE and its concert parties will remain as the two largest remaining blocks of stockholders in WBL, without the assurance of a common goal," it said.

"The company considered that going forward, it may be more challenging to work together with other major WBL stockholders to realise value."