United Engineers throws hat in ring for WBL Corporation

UNITED Engineers (UE) has announced a bid to acquire conglomerate WBL Corporation, setting the stage for a takeover battle between the property firm and the Straits Trading Company.

UE is offering $4.00 per share for all of WBL's ordinary shares, it said in an announcement to the Singapore Exchange today.

This is 19 per cent more than the price offered by Straits Trading Company earlier this month, which works out to $3.36 a share after adjusting for WBL's 2012 dividend, UE said. Its own offer of $4.00 a share will not be adjusted for the dividend.

Together with its concert parties - including the OCBC Group and the Great Eastern Holdings Group - UE holds 38.3 per cent of WBL shares.

The offer, made through United Engineers' wholly-owned subsidiary UE Centennial Venture, is for all of WBL's ordinary shares and its outstanding convertible bonds due June 10, 2014.

WBL, or Wearnes as it is also known, has operations in cars, property, technology and manufacturing. It represents luxury brands such as Bentley, BMW, and Jaguar in the region.

Trading in WBL Corporation has been halted since this morning. Its shares last closed at $4.20 yesterday.