United Engineers throws in rival bid for WBL Corp

United Engineers has thrown in an all-cash offer to take over property, automotive and technology group WBL, pitting itself against Straits Trading Company, which had launched its own bid for WBL in November.

UE, a property, construction and engineering firm, said today that it will pay $4 for each WBL share, valuing the firm at close to $1 billion.

UE noted in a statement that this offer represents a 19 per cent premium to the bid launched by Straits Trading.

Under that earlier offer, WBL shareholders have two options: they can trade in each WBL share they own for 1.07 new Straits Trading shares in return, or sell each WBL share for $3.41.

UE's bid has garnered the support of key shareholder OCBC Bank Group, which owns 5.85 per cent of WBL and which had raised concerns that Straits Trading's offer was too low.

Its bid also has the backing of OCBC's founders, the Lee family, and the Great Eastern Group, an OCBC subsidiary.

UE and these shareholders together own a combined 38.3 per cent stake in WBL.